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

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

  1. MagicallyClueless

    MagicallyClueless Master Astronaut


    SEBASTIAN: Mom’s birthday is tomorrow, so Demetrius is dragging the family to the city today for some ingenious 2-day plan he has

    SEBASTIAN: I don’t know what it is to be honest. I wasn’t paying attention to the multi-paged graph, or whatever he was lecturing about. He had a laser pointer and everything

    SEBASTIAN: Something about stimulating family bonding by .02% and fluctuating mood levels or literally anything a normal person wouldn’t say.

    SEBASTIAN: And this happens.

    SEBASTIAN: Every.

    SEBASTIAN: Year.

    SEBASTIAN: Anyways, I’ll be gone all day.

    SEBASTIAN: We can’t really keep in contact, so I didn’t want to worry you.

    Aww... Jade didn’t like walking up to her computer to see such messages. She was done with all the tiring farm work and planned to spend a low energy day, but without Sebastian, she was left wondering where to turn after all was said and done. Her social obligations were filled from saloon night, so she didn’t exactly feel like hanging out with anyone else, except for the still absent Alex. The young farmer supposed she needed a day alone, too.

    JADE: aww!! am i too late

    SEBASTIAN: Nah we’re waiting for Mom to finish up work

    SEBASTIAN: It’ll be a day (and night, Yoba help) of family “fun”. Yay

    JADE: i can read the excitement in your text

    JADE: i’m sure your mom will be super happy you are taking part though

    SEBASTIAN: She’d probably kill me if I didn’t.

    JADE: we both know you’re a mama’s boy. embrace it

    SEBASTIAN: When I’m cold and dead

    JADE: you mean you’re not???

    SEBASTIAN: Funny

    JADE: lmao

    JADE: well i hope you have a good day regardless of step-dad’s intricate graphs. i’ll miss you!

    SEBASTIAN: Thanks. I’ll survive somehow

    SEBASTIAN: I hate that I forgot about this, because I actually had plans for today.

    JADE: plans?? your plans to do nothing?

    SEBASTIAN: You know

    SEBASTIAN: There are very few chances I get to do whatever I want

    SEBASTIAN: Let me choose to do nothing if I so please

    JADE: so i was right

    SEBASTIAN: That’s not the point

    SEBASTIAN: The point is

    SEBASTIAN: My plans are ruined

    Jade giggled from their excessive banter. While Sebastian certainly had his quarrels with Maru and constant fights with Demetrius, the three of them put their differences aside to please Robin. She noticed that Sebastian has started to mellow out as well; their current conversation was the biggest rant he had in weeks, and it was being more dramatic than anything. Much smaller instances used to set him off and stress him out, causing him to go on tirades that Jade always urged him into giving. She was glad that she could be a proper soundboard for his frustration, especially since it seemed to help him a lot. Her mind kept wandering to the previous day, when he laughed so many times. He deserved to be happy.

    JADE: what ever shall we do?????

    SEBASTIAN: lol

    SEBASTIAN: I’m afraid it’s too late for me to make a plan B. Guess doing nothing has been rescheduled.

    SEBASTIAN: So what’s going on for you today?

    JADE: just got done with all my farming etc

    JADE: i need to go to the library and look up that big ass fish

    JADE: i was thinking of asking willy since he’s The Fishing Guy but... well you know. losing the fishing pole. i kinda feel like i can’t

    SEBASTIAN: That’s understandable. Have you even been in the mood to fish?

    JADE: no, but it was one big way i made money... i think for now i’m going to double up my foraging and maybe sell some stuff online.

    JADE: speaking of, i also ran out of art supplies at my house so i’m probably going back to the community center today

    JADE: i’ve been making a lot of nice things in my off time!! but they’re surprises.

    SEBASTIAN: Curses

    JADE: oh, crap. wait. what should i get your mom for her birthday???

    SEBASTIAN: Honestly?

    SEBASTIAN: Can you make spaghetti

    JADE: yeah but i’ve given that to her before ):

    SEBASTIAN: It doesn’t matter. You don’t understand how much she loves spaghetti

    SEBASTIAN: You should give her some tomorrow if you have the chance, she would really appreciate it

    JADE: aww.. sure, then! thank u!


    JADE: what happen



    Jade could only imagine the hilarity that was happening. Lots of declarations about private space and lots of screaming, probably. Sebastian didn’t answer again until a solid five minutes later.

    SEBASTIAN: Okay so APPARENTLY it’s time to leave now.

    JADE: omfg

    JADE: lmao, have a good day! be safe!

    SEBASTIAN: Thanks. You too!

    And then he signed off. Jade sighed wistfully, happy to have received her interaction with Sebastian for the day, but also saddened that the carpenter shop would be empty if she went to visit. She was sure everything would go well; the family seemed closer as of late.

    Time for her own chores, then. After toting her backpack full of supplies, Jade decided to travel towards the library first, which hopefully had books about local fauna in the valley. She hadn’t given the place a chance to begin with, since she was never that much of a reader. Some comics here and there and a few fiction books, but she only really started reading more when Sebastian had suggestions.

    The young farmer passed hellos as she walked by several people in town, though she wasn’t in the state of mind to warrant chatting with anybody. Feelings were mutual on the other end, it seemed; all the villagers were busy with their own endeavors. For some reason, she was just feeling too... sluggish. Something weighed on her mind, but she didn’t know what. At least it didn’t take too long to locate and arrive at the museum/library hybrid.

    While the outdoors were breezy and chilly, the indoor museum was pleasantly warm. She glanced her surroundings, noticing the building owner, Gunther, at the front desk. Looking to the right, there contained a surprising amount of people in the library section. Abigail searched in a book section about adventuring, Penny sat at one of the tables with her students, Vincent and Jas, while a tall, handsome fellow-- Elliott, if she remembered right-- reclined near the inner-edge of the bookshelves. Quite a concentration of villagers for something as low-maintenance as a library, but there wasn’t anything productive to do in town. It made sense.

    Luckily, no one seemed to notice Jade was there, so she began her mission to search for informational books. There were some about crops, the mines, various monsters... Ah, there it was. In the far back end of the library, she uncovered a dusty blue tome that contained all the information needed for fish species. The library seemed a little full, so she ended up checking the book out and leaving. Community center next; she was sure the Junimos didn’t mind her taking some space for a little while.

    What a quiet day... Jade felt like she hadn’t said a word to anyone, not including her farm animals. Truth be told, she did feel a little lonely... she still had work to do, however. Silently, she traveled to the community center by passing a bridge behind Penny’s trailer, then ascended stairs near Pierre’s shop. The community center, though appearing disheveled and unloved, welcomed her with open arms. She entered the building and briefly examined the area, passing a wave to the Junimo hut despite not being able to see any of them. Without skipping a beat, she walked to the arts and crafts room and settled in one of the comfortable chairs.

    Being in the abandoned building, she at least felt more at home with the Junimos hiding around. She stretched her arms and legs, heartily yawned, then plopped the fishing encyclopedia in her lap to start searching.

    Several minutes passed... there were an awful lot of fish in or near the valley. She skipped through waves of pages to find a section about lake fish. She started feeling woozy for some reason. Each passing picture of a fish, each depiction of the water... she started feeling a little cold. Several more minutes passed. There was nothing here.

    No fish was as large as what she saw, nor any of them the same color. There was a largemouth bass, which often had a green color, but there was no way it could grow to terrifying proportions. Sighing, Jade shuffled around her backpack to bring out the scale she found. Large, glittering, deep green. For some reason, the scale was painful to look at, but this was all the physical evidence she had. Its information needed to be here somewhere.

    She set the scale down to a small table beside her, ushering a determined grumble as she continued to flip through pages in the book. After some more minutes of ignoring her sickness while searching, she heard some squeaking. Junimos?

    They started appearing around her, ushering sweet little greetings in their native tongues and bouncing around. Several of them crowded around the table with the scale, and one even tried to reach for it.

    “What do you want with this?” Jade asked, picking the scale up again. “Do you know the fish this belongs to?”

    Nearly all of them bounced and squeaked rapidly, showing their affirmation. It seemed like they really wanted it.

    “Um... Okay,” she simply replied, giving it to them. The scale probably had more use to them anyway, and she had her caustic memories to go by. Nearly all the Junimos bounced and pattered out of the room to presumably store their new item, while Jade begrudgingly returned to this behemoth of a book.


    The Junimos wouldn’t just want a scale... and this fish was abnormal, it was huge, terrifying, and... mythical. Instantly, the young farmer flipped to a section about rumors, myths, and legends involving aquatic life. There were tales of sinking ships from overgrown sharks, mysterious jellyfish that looked shockingly similar to the Moonlight jellies, merpeople, winter-bound aquatic life with teeth as long and sharp as icicles, and more. Then, she saw it. On one page, there told a story about a lake fish so gigantic to be seen from afar, yet so elusive to never be spotted up close. When fishermen were lucky enough to get it to bite, they were even luckier if their fishing pole survived its pure power. Few people have seen the fish, and even fewer have had close encounters with it. There was even a line in the book about how no one survived a close encounter at all. Heh, there was a first time for everything.

    Rather than actual photographs like many of the fish entries had, this fish was just a drawing. It appeared long, bulky, and as much horror as there could be in a cartoonishly green fish. It had a white underbelly and yellow, beady eyes. Its most striking feature to her was its gigantic, sharp teeth. Sightings were the most common on rainy Spring days, but there was no mistake. This was the fish she saw.

    Its name was none other than The Legend- the king of all fish, one of the oldest and most mysterious species ever documented in Stardew Valley... And to think, Jade actually saw the creature with her own two eyes. Realization struck her face as she recalled one of the Junimos’ requirements for her. She dug around in her backpack once more and brought out those same papers with scribblings on her goals.

    She was right after all. One of the pages, with a drawing of a green fish, requested her to ‘gain the respect of the lake god’. Well, she was alive, so maybe that was respect enough. Why she was, however, she had absolutely no clue. With the book’s descriptions about such an important fish, she really could have been gone, just like that... Jade stopped breathing for a brief moment, then gasped for air. She really wasn’t feeling well.

    Quickly, she closed the book. That was enough for the day. Jade spent a moment to return to reality before forcing herself to stand up. She forgot to take any supplies she needed, but her health was more of a concern. The last thing she wanted to do was to collapse, especially while Sebastian was gone. He was supposed to have a forced fun family day; he couldn’t go back to her as a mess.

    Jade allowed herself a lot of patience as she left the arts and crafts room and went back to the main lobby area. When she arrived, the right half of the room appeared refurbished and fixed, complete with an anchor decoration, some posters, and a huge, clean fish tank. There were three stars in the mantle above the fireplace, too. If she remembered right, she only had three more of their tasks to fix. Junimos hopped around excitedly as she entered and examined the newly refurbished area. Because of how she was feeling, she gave them only a few moments of her time before heading out the door. On normal circumstances, she would have been very excited, but... she was just... tired. Many of the little ones followed her until she left the establishment.

    While avoiding villager eye contact and any unwanted discussions, she finally went back home. Her trip was very slow, since she felt like she couldn’t walk very fast, but the less she thought about anything, the better she began to feel. Just get to the house, she continued to tell herself, keeping her mind off of being alone, off of the fish. Her chest felt less pressure and she could properly breathe out of her nose. Maybe it was a little chilly, but she didn’t think about it. She just needed to get home.

    The exhausted farmer arrived just as the sky was reddening. A gift from the Junimos appeared on the doorstep, though it wasn’t wrapped in a gift this time: it was a very sturdy and fancy fishing pole, surprisingly better looking than the brand new one she bought. As much as she appreciated the kind creatures’ gestures, she couldn’t bear to look at a fishing pole for a while. She leaned it against a wall just through the door.

    Her next actions involved checking her farm’s perimeter to ensure its safety, feeding the cat and herself, and then taking a well deserved shower to celebrate a somewhat productive day. Afterwards, Jade dressed into her coziest (and most hideous) pajamas, ready to collapse in bed at the fragile time of 9 PM. Of course there was a knock at the door right as she plopped into bed.

    “Whaaaaat?” lazily grumbled Jade. The whiny response incited an even louder and more rapid knock. “Ugh! Fine!” She grumbled, rolling out of bed and shuffling over to the front door.

    Sebastian had his arms crossed, providing her a motherly glare. “So cranky,” he mumbled.

    “Seb!” Jade gasped, releasing her tired demeanor to give him a hug. “Welcome back!” she eagerly replied, taking no hesitation to give him a simple kiss. He smiled and hugged her back with one arm.

    “Hey,” he replied with cheer, albeit somewhat tiredly.

    “How was the trip?” she asked.

    “It was fine... We did a lot of exploring and shopping. Mom got a ton of new stuff, her favorite being a deluxe chainsaw that Demetrius won’t let her use until tomorrow. She was seriously about to go in the black of the night, revving that thing around,” Sebastian answered with a smirk. “How about your day?”

    Jade wasn’t really sure how to answer. She wasn’t horrible, but she couldn’t exactly lie to him and say it was a good day, either. It was a forgettable day, aside from seeing the Junimos and realizing just how fragile her life was. “It was alright. Truth be told, I’m not in the mood to talk about it... Later, maybe?”

    He replied with an understanding nod.

    She sighed in relief. Good answer. “After I did all my errands, I made dinner and was going to sleep early.”

    “Oh, sorry. Was I disturbing you?”

    “Never!” the young farmer retorted in an instant. “Oooh, what do you have there?” she then asked; Sebastian held a solid shopping bag that was slightly obscured by his back.

    “Ah. Well...” He brought the bag forward, then opened it enough to dig around inside. “I actually got you something while I was in the city.”

    Aww, a present? Sebastian was already the best boyfriend! Did he have to prove himself even more? Jade excitedly watched him bring out the gift in question-- oh! It was a present box slightly bigger than his hand, though it was very slim and fancy looking. The box itself was blue with a purple bow wrapped around it.

    “It’s not in its packaging or anything since... well, you’ll see.” He offered the present to her and turned his head away. “Here, open it,” he quietly muttered.

    Jade gently received the present and sprouted a grin. “Aww... you really didn’t have to give me anything!”

    He instinctively flushed. “Just... open it.”

    “Okay, okay.” Jade delicately pulled the present’s bow off, then lifted its cover. Her expression blanked upon seeing the gift.

    A phone. Not just a phone, but a fancy phone- a touch screen phone as big if not bigger than her own hand, slim design, and... This looked... expensive.

    “... I know what you’re going to say,” he sighed; he had repeated the potential conversation in his head several times. “Be quiet for a moment, and I’ll tell you why I want you to have this.”

    So be it. Jade was still processing how to feel... not only was this expensive, but he knew she didn’t like phones.

    “I know you’ve expressed distaste towards mobile stuff. All of that is completely your business, and I’m sorry if this counts as stepping on your toes... admittedly, this might be more of a gift for me than for you.” Sebastian frowned with uncertainty, gazing off the corner of his eye as he tried to continue. “So I guess... sorry for being a selfish ass?”

    Jade would have told him he wasn’t being a selfish ass, but he was still trying to form his sentences at the moment. She waited for him to continue his explanation.

    “There have been quite a few situations where you needed a phone and didn’t have one, and... you go exploring a lot, into the mines, et cetera... Cell service usually works in those places, surprisingly. At least, where I’ve gone.” He lowered his head, completely embarrassed. He felt like an overbearing parent, and Yoba knew he was aware of what that was like. “I like to think I’m very independent... I like to be alone and I’ve had my fair share of close calls. I know you value your independence as well, so I really don’t want to seem like I’m telling you how to live your life...”

    “Seb, where are you going with this?” Jade chuckled. It seemed like he was about to go off with a tangent.

    The laugh, though alleviating, didn’t remove Sebastian’s anxiousness. “Uh... I’ve just been thinking, is all. I worry about you a lot, but you know... emotions were really high a few days ago, and I may have seemed like I didn’t want you to be adventurous. It can be hard to get my point across in those situations...” He exhaled, able to finally get to the point: “Basically, you should feel free to do whatever with your time. Explore, kick monster ass, and anything else you feel you can do... But, be safe, and don’t ever be afraid to ask for help. Just call, even. We’re loners, but that doesn’t mean we have to be lonely. You’ve said that yourself.”

    “Aww... Seb...” Jade held back tears for his sake. Damn him for being so sweet... her eyes dropped back to look at the phone. Maybe she didn’t hate phones, if it was for a good reason, like safety. It’s been so long since she owned one, too... only paranoia kept her from getting another mobile device.

    “I, uh... I put my number and some other ones you may like. Sam and Abby, resources around town. Maru put hers and Penny’s numbers in there too... oh, and that number you texted a while ago. I’m assuming it’s Alex, since I pretty much just listed everyone else.”

    “Wow... I honestly don’t know what to say. This is... wow. Seb, that’s possibly the sweetest thing anyone has ever done for me. I promise, I’ll keep this with me at all times,” the young farmer replied with a squeaky, emotional voice. She was overwhelmed with joy from such a sweet gesture... A sweet... expensive... gestu-- she just couldn’t get over how expensive this looked. “Sebastian.” Her voice became sharp, serious.

    “What?” he asked, staring at her in surprise. He didn’t like the full name use.

    “How much did this cost?”

    “... Don’t worry about it,” he huffed defensively.

    “Seb!! This phone looks so damn pricey! I don’t know how I can ever repay this!” she shouted in desperation. Her face was flushed, partly from being flustered and partly from being baffled. The reality set in that the gesture was too sweet! It would take ages to get a gift to match the price! What could she even sell to rack up enough gold?!

    “Hey. You’re not paying anything,” he snapped back. “I... I did this because I wanted to, and I had a feeling you would get a good use out of it. I had some money lying around, anyway...”

    “How do you just have money lying around? I thought you were saving up! I-” She studdenly stopped. He didn’t use that money, did he?

    Sebastian kept his focus on her. “Yeah, I was saving up... you know, to move out of the valley. But...” He crossed his arms, blushing. “That was awhile ago. I don’t like the way long distance sounds, and it seems like I’m here for the long haul. So...” He nervously unfurled his arms to scratch his chin. “You know...”

    Oh, here came the tears... Jade tried her best to keep from crying. She was already a trembling mess, overwhelmed with relief, happiness, love, and anxiousness all at once. With barely controlled breathing, Jade was able to very weakly mutter “you’re not a... selfish ass,” tears collecting and then streaming down her rosy cheeks. She closed the present box and held it tightly to her chest, then clutched at the collar of his hoodie with her other hand. “Inside,” she commanded in a half-cry and half-threat.

    “Inside?” Sebastian repeated.

    It was actually depressing how weakly she pulled him. “Come inside,” she nearly begged. Sebastian, not one to argue with his blubbering girlfriend, allowed himself to be tugged into the house. He shut the door behind him, though his gaze remained on her, unwavering to see her next action.

    Jade let him go when he was in the house, then slowly walked towards the nearest table-- which was in the kitchen-- and gently set her new gift at its edge. Within a flash, Jade hurled herself back to his side and embraced him with such impeccable force. Sebastian stumbled back from the impact, then hesitantly wrapped his arms around her as well.

    “I love you,” she cried through a grin. While wiping her tears, she exhibited a large frown, but then smiled again when her eyes met with his. Poor thing was going through a roller coaster of emotions.

    His face became solid red from the declaration, but tried to brush it off like it wasn’t a big deal, as if people were watching. “Love you too,” he softly mumbled.

    “My day wasn’t really the best... I wish I could tell you why, but... I don’t have the words.” She chuckled and wiped her eyes again, still grinning. “But I’ve never been happier at the same time. You’re the best thing that’s ever happened to me.”

    Sebastian didn’t reply, though he definitely heard. He just stared at her, flustered and not knowing what to do.

    “I’m sorry. I’m a mess.” She hugged him again. “I’m fine, really. I want to kick your ass for spending so much money, but the fact that you did that just because you care about me... Words can’t describe.” Jade let go once more, then walked back over to grab her phone. “You should help me figure out how this works. I’m a grandma with this tech,” she joked through her serious scratchy voice.

    "Of... of course I will.”

    “Great,” Jade beamed, taking a hold of his hand. Together, they walked towards her room; she already assumed he was spending the night, which she was correct about; the shopping bag he carried actually contained an extra set of clothes for himself. “... Seb?”

    “Yeah?” Sebastian glanced to her while they walked, then stopped in the middle of her room. She sniffed from her last cry, but didn’t seem to be upset anymore. Curiosity was more apparent than anything.

    “If you’re not moving to the city... where are you going to go?” Jade exhaled in slight worry. “You don’t like the basement, but there aren’t exactly many... places, you know.”

    Sebastian gave a nonchalant shrug. “I’ll figure something out,” he replied with more pep in his voice. “I can rot in the basement for a little while longer if it means I get to stay in town.”

    “Good,” Jade cheerfully added. “I’ll make sure you won’t regret your decision.”

    He smiled. “I know.”
    • ApertureGaming011

      ApertureGaming011 Scruffy Nerf-Herder

      This fanfic is really going the way I adore. I really can't wait what Seb''s gonna do during his permanent stay here! If only my fanfic were like yours...
        Gabaw likes this.
      • Risukage

        Risukage Giant Laser Beams

        Sebastian truly is Best Husbando. *Wipes away tear of joy.* Totally a keeper! And I am a total sucker for hilarious IM chat, there's just so much potential for hilarity and it always delivers.

        ...Hmm, so Captain Ahab had the White Whale, Jade has Legend. Git 'im, girl! :D
        • Kid Absurdity

          Kid Absurdity Big Damn Hero

          Hope Seb didn't get her a Galaxy Note 7.
          • MagicallyClueless

            MagicallyClueless Master Astronaut

            as long as it's not the phone with the Special EarBuds then she's good lmAO
              Gabaw and ApertureGaming011 like this.
            • ApertureGaming011

              ApertureGaming011 Scruffy Nerf-Herder

              Probably a 150 Galleon Hwawei phone
              • Risukage

                Risukage Giant Laser Beams

                If anyone there is using earbuds then I will reach through time and space to slap them myself. Use real headphones, not those tiny, tinny, terrible things. :D
                  Gabaw and ApertureGaming011 like this.
                • Kid Absurdity

                  Kid Absurdity Big Damn Hero

                  Need headphones with WOODIER sound.
                    Gabaw, ApertureGaming011 and Risukage like this.
                  • Risukage

                    Risukage Giant Laser Beams

                    *Spits drink on monitor.*

                    Well played, good sir, well played.

                    In another thread/chat somewhere we were discussing...something, I forget. This sketch came up. You're welcome.

                      Gabaw and ApertureGaming011 like this.
                    • Ghostly Fox

                      Ghostly Fox Heliosphere

                      I will admit to having to use earbuds, because sensory issues. (Basically, every kind of headphones I've ever used, my ears act like they're being crushed. The joys of having an oddly wired brain. :V)

                      My hat off to you, good person.
                      • Kid Absurdity

                        Kid Absurdity Big Damn Hero

                        I remember. It was discussing writing erotica, and specifically, how to use the words INTERCOURSE and ERONGENOUS ZONE to maximum effect.
                          Gabaw and Risukage like this.
                        • MagicallyClueless

                          MagicallyClueless Master Astronaut

                          lol don't worry, earbuds are fine
                          i was cracking a joke at the new iphone and how you can't use regular earbuds/headphones for it
                          you have to buy a super expensive wireless pair

                          (you can make it work with some adapters but it's a lot)
                            ApertureGaming011 and Gabaw like this.
                          • Gabaw

                            Gabaw Spaceman Spiff

                            and under the phone, there was also a handgun lmao! Or not. Either way, he takes your safety seriously :rofl: It was a very touching gesture from Seb and a smart one too. Jade can't be running around without even so much as an emergency communication device. Just don't drop it in the lake :p Altho if she ever goes back near it is another question entirely. Poor girl has been shaken to the core. They both were, really. The two of them together can overcome this better than one alone. Go get 'em!
                            • MagicallyClueless

                              MagicallyClueless Master Astronaut

                              NO UPDATE THIS WEEK!

                              i've been busy with a lot of stuff. thank you for being patient
                                Gabaw likes this.
                              • MagicallyClueless

                                MagicallyClueless Master Astronaut

                                After Jade was given a brand new phone full of mini games, trinkets, and an obligatory photo of her boyfriend as the lock screen wallpaper, she and Sebastian saw each other less frequently. Jade didn’t necessarily mind since he really and truly deserved a social break-- in fact, she probably did, too. She visited the carpenter shop with a pot full of spaghetti for Robin’s birthday, celebrated with their proud family, and then gave some quality time to herself for the rest of the evening and several evenings afterwards. While the young farmer didn’t make too many efforts in leaving the forest, her phone buzzed with texts constantly; many were from friends but a vast majority were from Sebastian. He spent time alone in his room and at his favorite driving spots, but he never failed to let her know what he was thinking about or the fact that he simply wanted to know she was faring well. Their distance, as interesting as it was, brought them closer and allowed them to breathe at the same time.

                                That wasn’t to say they never saw each other, however. Even if they didn’t meet the entire day, Sebastian would still come by during nightfall to either visit or to stay the night entirely. He was usually too lazy to refuse the latter option, so they often spent long nights talking, bantering, playing games, and resting with one another. Such behavior became so routine for them that they didn’t like sleeping apart. Jade was scared to be left alone with her thoughts, while Sebastian could barely sleep at all. There soon approached an unspoken rule between them that encouraged Sebastian to stay as much as he wanted. Sometimes he left in the middle of the night while other times he would still be asleep when she woke, but he was welcome all the same.

                                Before she realized it, Winter was fast approaching. Weather dropped to freezing some nights, some of her crops died early, and she felt guilty taking some wool from her poor rabbits. Three days until the next season officially started, and two days marked the last festival of the season: Spirit’s Eve. Every time Jade and Abigail were together, Spirit’s Eve would be mentioned with overwhelming positivity. Abigail was certainly excited, and after asking Sebastian about it, he seemed excited, too. Jade considered herself a fan of the horror genre, so she looked forward to how it would pan out.

                                Until then, Jade did a good job of keeping herself busy. Stardew Valley endured another cold yet sunny Fall morning, Jade settling with her dear Sebastian as he typed away some work on his laptop. They both sat on the living room couch as the television yammered on about something; neither of them were listening and preferred it for background noise. The young farmer accomplished all her required farming duties and was finishing up a knitted dark purple scarf.

                                “You know, townspeople are so nice. I never thought Haley’s sister would be as wonderful as she actually was. Remember when I put that notice up for knitting help?” Jade cheerfully asked with her light and airy voice. While talking to him, she was focused on her scarf, while he seemed focused on his own work. He didn’t respond for a little while, but it was expected.

                                “Yeah. Emily helped you?"

                                “Uh huh. She showed me how to hand dye the yarn I made. This scarf is made from my bunnies, can you believe it? Though, I’m a little too scared to try more intricate patterns...” The young farmer shrugged, taking another moment to finish up her creation. “A-ha! Done!” She grinned and held up the scarf as a whole. Sebastian stopped whatever he was doing long enough to examine her and her creation.

                                “Ooh, nice. Good for the season coming up,” commented Sebastian with a content smile. She took no hesitation to wrap the scarf around his neck.

                                “It’s for you!” She beamed. “It’s your color. And the bunnies worked hard!”

                                Sebastian actually felt surprised at how he didn’t see her actions coming, though he loved the gesture. “Aw, Jade... Thank you, it’s very soft.” He lifted his arm to feel the scarf splayed down his torso. “Is this the surprise you were working on?” he quietly asked.

                                “No, that’s still a secret,” answered Jade with certainty. “You’ll love it, though. It’s taking a little while to get just right!”

                                He leaned over to her side and bumped their heads together. Jade took the chance to move in closer with him and relax. “I look forward to it,” he softly answered. They both became lost in each other’s contact and the gentle warmth that radiated from their being. Sebastian started to doze before knocking at the front door interrupted their moment. He sat up and glared at the door, while Jade sighed and stood up.

                                “Coming!” Jade shouted as she walked towards the front of her house. She opened the door and rubbed her eyes tiredly. “Can I help you?”

                                “Farm girl!” beamed Alex. Jade’s jaw dropped from the realization; it was no one other than Alex himself! She hadn’t seen him in what felt like forever, and their reuniting was long overdue.

                                “Alex!!” squealed Jade and glee. She tackled him and hugged, but with his girth, he hardly stumbled. He laughed and hugged her back. Something seemed a little different about him, but it was better. Stronger. Alex seemed renewed, somehow.

                                “Hey, long time no see! I’ve missed you and your silly shenaniwhatevers,” eagerly boomed the athlete. “Thanks for the texts, by the way! Instead of answering, I just thought I’d come by.” He grinned.

                                Jade giggled and let go of Alex, only to grab him by the arm and practically drag him inside. “I’m glad you did! I have to show you what the phone looks like! There’s so many neat stuff on it. I’m hopelessly addicted to some games.” She laughed to herself, then stopped tugging him. “So! How are you? Do you wanna stay for some late lunch? Any time we can catch up??”

                                “So many questions, farm girl! So little time.” Alex loved to see her enthusiasm, and truth be told, he did feel bad for avoiding most people while he tried to spend some time by himself. Especially with Jade, who seemed more excited to have him around than his other mutual friends. “I’m doing good, and I’m ready to get back in the game. Also, I can’t stay--” He caught Sebastian glaring from the couch, then spout a devious grin. “You know what? I got time. I think it’s time for us to hang out, anyway!”

                                “Oh, goodie! Heehee, it’s been so long since I’ve had my two favorite boys in the same place. I gotta make something special...” Jade started, roaming over to her kitchen and examining the contents of her refrigerator. “... I’m putting pizza in the oven,” she deadpanned afterwards. There was nothing really available for her to cook without it getting too complicated, and they’d have to deal with it.

                                Alex happily stayed at the house to properly catch up with Jade, and even made the decision to be polite to Sebastian in just a specific enough way to irritate him. The raven-hair had been massively disturbed by the jock’s presence, but as time went on, he calmed down and decided to be good in return. Jade adored Alex like a brother, and it just so happened that he was also annoyingly protective like one. After they all ate, Sebastian disappeared somewhere upstairs while the remaining two took the opportunity to play catch-up.

                                Nothing was awkward between Sam and Alex anymore, thank Yoba. Over Alex’s break, he actually went out of his way to speak with Sam and form a decent friendship... maybe it wasn’t what he initially wanted, but he knew he couldn’t dwell on his feelings. Sam had no romantic interest with anybody, and Alex learned to respect it. To his own surprise, he really did move on. He accepted Sam as a friend, and in turn, Sam promised to make up for it. Alex didn’t really understand what he meant, but the blond always had that mysterious vibe under his outgoing silliness. This was a better time than any to just go with the flow.

                                In addition to clearing the waters with his new spiky-haired friend, he had also taken more chances to be productive and dwell into more studies than just sports. Athleticism had always been exceedingly important to Alex-- and it still was-- but there had been a lingering emptiness with the change of seasons and his slowly aging body. Intelligence was the only way people could get anywhere, and he needed to be prepared for the harsh reality. After work out routines and caring for his grandparents, Alex actually took some time aside to read from the library and take some recommendations; he learned of Penny’s nature this way. He didn’t even realize she had much of a presence in town until he saw her teach the children.

                                So, Alex returned to Jade with a better attitude, more determination, and more powerful mental and physical fitness. He was ready to take on the world, and he was happy that Jade could witness his success!

                                To celebrate a renewed Alex and the reunion with his dear sister-in-spirit, he proposed an idea: “Hey, remember a long time ago, I suggested takin’ you to the baths? It’s really nice there. I tend to go there in the winter especially, and since it’s coming up, maybe you’d like to see how it is.”

                                “Oh, I do remember!” Jade happily recalled. “Are you finally going to take me there?” she then asked. Even though they were done eating, they still sat at the dining table and chatted their hearts away.

                                “Mmhm, and bring your lame boy over if you want. We can all hang out and relax in the sauna. Take a break from routine.”

                                “That sounds so lovely. I guess I can break the bathing suit back out of my dresser...” The young farmer hummed in thought as she tried to organize her plans. “Hey, Seb!” She called aloud, knowing he had taken refuge in the game room.

                                What?” yelled Sebastian in return.

                                “Come here!!! We gotta ask you something!”

                                The response ushered an irritated grumble from upstairs, but shortly after marched her faithful boyfriend. “What is it?” he asked, refusing to even acknowledge Alex. The athlete didn’t really mind, but still grinned and threw his arm around Jade’s shoulders.

                                “Alex thinks it would be fun for all of us to go to the bathhouse! I’ve never been there before and I think it would be very relaxing. Maybe needed too, since it’s so cold outside. Would you like to join us?” innocently requested the girlfriend.

                                Sebastian seemed to be in a real conflict. For one, Alex would be there, and regardless of Jade’s fondness for him, Sebastian had to call him a ‘friend’ through gritted teeth. Cold weather was nice so getting in a hot bath sounded nice, but that required for him to be half naked in front of people not Jade. Not a fun idea. On the other hand, however, Alex would be there and Jade would be with him. Maybe Alex was tolerable, but this was a bathhouse! Jade would be in a swimsuit, exposed to the elements, exposed to Alex! And he was her boyfriend, right? He needed to be there to support her. And this was her first time going!

                                Alex blinked while watching the raven-haired man figure out his thoughts. “Is he okay? He’s been standing there for five minutes.”

                                “I dunno. His face is so red, like he’s not breathing.” Jade watched with concern, especially since he didn’t reply to either of them. “... Seb? Sebby?”

                                Sebastian snapped out of his train of thought and stared to Jade, almost shocked that he broke his trance. “What?”

                                “... Did you hear me? About going to the bathhouse?”

                                He was quiet for a few more seconds, but then he nodded and crossed his arms. “... Yeah.” He sighed. “Okay, fine. I’ll go along.”

                                “Really?” Jade’s expression brightened to show her excitement. “I’m glad!” she beamed and stepped forward to hug him. So it was settled, and they would all be going to soak in a nice sauna for the evening. Jade considered bringing other people along, but she couldn’t really think of anyone other than... Well, Sam. She would have liked giving Alex company when her attention wafted to just Sebastian, but she didn’t want to include Sam after he’s just getting better. Not yet. Maybe she would be too focused on relaxing to give Sebastian too much attention, anyway. She really needed the ability to settle.

                                Alex eventually left the house, then Sebastian did shortly after. Like other days, Jade cracked down on foraging to make herself useful and to pass the time until they all met up again. Grapes and berries galore, tons of flowers, ferns, herbs, and even some mushrooms that grew deep in the forest. Jade encountered some slimes loitering in the secret woods, though she was able to take care of them fairly quickly. With training and sharpening her skills, she didn’t even get a scratch, and even acquired some interesting slime balls as well as various trinkets from them. Jade returned home with a ton of valuable goods to ship, then spent the rest of her time lulling about in her room.

                                The time eventually came, signaled by Alex’s reappearance to the house. Together, they left for the sauna, Sebastian joining them when they passed his house. To get to their destination, there was a line of old stone stairs that led up another steep hill. After climbing them, there came a gigantic flat area, a huge glass building to their left and a rickety train stop at the northern end. The whole area had been walled off by natural rocky mountains, save for two tunnel openings on the opposite ends of the tracks. Sebastian looked at the train stop with fondness, then told Jade that they should hang there alone sometime. The young farmer, of course, eagerly agreed, while Alex guided them both to the glass building.

                                Inside were depressingly bland and waterproof walls of a cramped room, though it felt rather nice and warm. One door led to the men’s side of the sauna, while the other indicated the women’s side. The three begrudgingly parted ways, only to remeet at the actual baths.

                                The locker rooms themselves were bland and had an unsettling smell due to one of the lockers. Most of them were shut tight except for a group at the far end of a narrow hallway. Jade passed by sinks, bathrooms, and noticed a huge pink room with chairs and a wall-sized mirror branching off from the main path. The young farmer stuffed all her belongings in an empty locker, changed into the same blue swimsuit she wore at Sam's birthday gathering, then continued to the left of the hall. There were a couple of showers on one end and a large blue booth on the other. Steam wafted from the booth, and the unpleasant smells had faded. Whatever was on the other side smelled surprisingly nice.

                                Jade walked through the booth, which caused a puff of steam to whap her unsuspecting face. She entered the largest and official room, which had boring blue tiled floors, but a vibrant and beautiful pool that stretched across the room's perimeter. The pool itself seemed varying in depth, stairs going down the shallow end and a ladder on the deeper end. She noticed through the steam that there were glass walls with a view of the outside-- oh! The ceiling was glass, too! She could see the beautiful grapefruit sky up above, the day waning away almost as soon as it began. A splashing sound caught her attention.

                                It was Sebastian, grumbling to himself as he descended the pool's stairs and entered shallow water. He wore only some swimming shorts that were as hilariously dark as his hair. He didn't seem to notice Jade, not until she greeted him with an eager, "Seb! These are the baths, huh?"

                                His expression dropped like a rock, as did his entire body when he realized she was in the same room. He used the water to distort his half-naked figure and stared over at her in surprise. "H-hey," he hesitantly murmured. Only his head was above the water.

                                She giggled and decided not to prod further, even though she didn't understand the cause of his behavior. Jade followed him into the baths and joined him at an equal level, letting out a content sigh when the warmth from the pool settled in. "Hey. Is Alex still getting ready?"

                                "Hell if I know... I just rushed to get ready and came out here. I wasn't paying attention to him and probably never will," Sebastian answered, his regular grumbling sass making a fantastic return.

                                Jade let out another happy chuckle. "That's fair, honestly. Hey, though! What a beautiful place. I was surprised at how pretty it is, considering how underwhelming the locker rooms were."

                                "The locker rooms manage to look like trash even when not a lot of people are using it, but no one really like... works here, or cleans up." He had a bored expression on his face, but so did Jade. Neither of them were surprised at the lack of people in town. "So, that's one of the reasons. The bath is very nice, though." Sebastian let out a sigh, indicating he was on the path to relaxing as well.

                                Alex stomped into the main area of the bathhouse and strode into the water with expertise. "Third wheel, comin’ through!” he beamed with a grin. Jade lifted her head to see how Alex was doing, and-- wow. She never really noticed how big the athlete actually was... his body type wasn’t exactly too attractive to her, but it was intimidating for sure. He had hefty muscles that proved just how powerful his bear hugs were, yet he was still lean enough to not appear totally menacing. Jade wondered if she had actually bulked up from all the farm work... she never really took the time to examine herself all too much. Instinctively, she stared down at herself and hummed in thought.

                                Sebastian’s eyes had closed from relaxing in the bath, only grunting at Alex’s statement. Jade snapped out of her temporary train of thought and smiled to her dear brother-in-spirit. “You’re not a third wheel at all! This bath already so relaxing, though. I need to go here more.”

                                “Right?” Alex eagerly replied. He went on to explain how often he came by the place, even mentioning the few occasions he’d run into other townspeople and the surprising amount of times he actually encountered passing strangers. Jade happily engaged in the conversation with him and chattered away, the hot water not doing a well in calming her excited attitude. The three were content, however; even Sebastian enjoyed listening to the two and contributed a few thoughtful words to their conversation.

                                It didn't take long for all three of them to be taken in by the sereneness of the baths. Eventually, they dozed, conversations subsided for a little while, then started again when Jade decided to sit on the pool's edge instead. Her feet continued to dangle in the water while the rest of her body took a break from the heat. Alex reclined back, arms rested out of the water, while Sebastian stirred from the movement and brought his attention over to Jade.

                                "Can I just say something?" Jade calmly started, smiling at them both. Both of them gave some varying degree of affirmation, urging her to continue: "I'm happy both of you can tolerate being in the same room."

                                Alex opened his eyes and shot an interesting smirk to the young farmer. "S'that so?"

                                "Mmhm. I appreciate both of you being here with me," Jade continued, smiling. "I was considering bringing in Sam, since both of you like him."

                                Sebastian gave her such a bored look. "That lazy ass wouldn't come all the way up here," he nonchalantly replied.

                                "Hey!" snapped Alex, seemingly out of nowhere. "Pretty damn bold coming from you," he sneered.

                                The couple seemed surprised from the remark, but while one shrunk back, the other narrowed his eyes and glared forward. "Excuse me?" Sebastian began in a threatening tone.

                                "You heard me. Have you ever looked at anything that wasn't a computer?" grunted Alex.

                                Jade sighed. "Guys..." This was all just a misunderstanding of tone.

                                "Unfortunately, I have, with this sore sight front of me," Sebastian snapped in return with an aggressive gesture towards Alex's figure.

                                "What a prick! How is Jade your girlfriend? How are you even friends with Sam?!"

                                "You're the odd-one-out here, dumbass! Don’t be starting shit you don’t know how to handle!”

                                They started yelling. The peace had been broken just like that, and Jade couldn't gauge how or why. Both the guys stood and started to size each other up, spouting nonsense about their authority, relationships, who is better. Et cetera. Their voices got muffled to her, ringing dominating her hearing, but she could hear the tones. She felt so upset. It was her fault... right?

                                The water rose past her feet. It felt so cold... Why was she cold? Jade hugged her arms and stared to the boys, but she couldn't focus on them. There was something behind them.

                                Water levels continued to rise. It smelled like a swamp. Jade's chest tightened up, and she started to feel so sick. She couldn't believe her eyes... there was something in the water with them, at the furthest end of the pool. It was large, ominous, and... green. Rows and rows of teeth, beady yellow eyes, staring straight at her. Judging eyes.

                                "GET OUT!" screeched Jade in desperation. She wasn't sure if she was yelling at herself, the guys, or the monster. "OUT! GET OUT!... GET OUT!" she yelled with empty breaths, desperately escaping the water to cling to the bathhouse wall. Sebastian and Alex instantly ceased their bickering from Jade’s outcry, exchanging worried looks to each other before silently agreeing to exit the bath and go over to her.

                                "Jade?! What happened?" Sebastian hurriedly asked. She sounded too scared for their bickering to be the source of her trauma.

                                "Look, we're sorry! It was bad of us to fight," added Alex, hesitantly putting a hand on one of her trembling shoulders. She didn't seem to respond to it, only staring at the water with horror.

                                She tried to swallow a lump of air down her throat. After the two got up and moved, the gigantic fish, the Legend, or whatever it was... it was gone. "There... there was a..." She hastily breathed and stroked her hair with one of her hands. How could it just vanish? The young farmer wandered back over to the pool and touched the water with the tips of her fingers. The water was steamy and excessively warm, as it should have been. Jade stared to the other end of the pool. No scales, no teeth, no eyes. Nothing.

                                "What? There was what?" Sebastian repeated with worry.

                                Jade collapsed back and continued to stare at the pool. "... It's..." The words wouldn't come out right. "I... T-take me home. Please." She forced herself up and walked back to the women's locker rooms. She didn't turn to look at them or give any indication that she wanted to. She was there, and then she vanished, just like that.

                                Both of them were speechless. Neither of them argued with each other after that incident. After cleaning, dressing, and gathering all of their things, they met back at the entrance of the glass building. Jade didn't mutter a word on the way back, her silence unnatural and unsettling.

                                At the farm, Alex parted with a close hug to his sister-in-spirit, then gave Sebastian a trusting look before leaving. It wasn't the athlete's place to figure out what was wrong, and both of them accepted the fact. Sebastian already decided that he would stay the night, so he wasn't leaving her side for a second.

                                "Jade..." He muttered, watching her nervously. "Something doesn't add up here... what... what happened? What did you see?" Her boyfriend watched her with a soft seriousness. He needed an answer, but her well being was the most important.

                                Jade didn't answer for a while. They returned to the couch in her living room, watching the television that continued to serve as background noise.

                                "Jade... please."

                                "You won't believe me," she finally answered.

                                Sebastian's eyes widened. "I will believe you."

                                "No..." Jade sighed. "Sebastian, I love you, but... Look. I think I'm just tired... I'm going to bed early."

                                After some serious thought, the raven-hair eventually sighed in defeat. He didn't want to prod her anymore. "... Alright, Jade. Goodnight."


                                With her eerie silence, she got off the couch and walked to her bedroom. Her steps were quiet, shoulders drooped. She was like a different person.

                                Something didn't feel right.

                                First, I want to apologize for going off my schedule! It's been a crazy last few weeks and some new things came into my life, which requires a lot of adjusting.

                                So, basically:
                                I AM NOT UPDATING ON A SCHEDULE ANYMORE.

                                It was a nightmare trying to get this up, so hopefully you understand! I've been too busy with all sorts of things. I've been behind on a lot of things, a lot of important school related things, and I need to give that more of a focus.

                                I am participating in NaNoWriMo this year and it WILL be my fic, so I'm definitely going to keep writing. When the chapters come out though, that's uncertain. But it's clear I can no longer keep up the same schedule, and I think it'll be less stress on me if I updated when I finished rather than rushing to finish.

                                THIS IS NOT A HIATUS! The end of my fic has been planned already and it just requires writing. Updates may be slower sometimes or faster other times. Thank you so much for your patience!

                                I hope you enjoyed this chapter! Sorry again that it came out super delayed!
                                • Risukage

                                  Risukage Giant Laser Beams

                                  *Bounces up and down.*

                                  I love everything about this chapter: cuddly!Alex, awkward!Sebastian, sassy!Jade... Those two are such adorable brothers, and maybe one day they'll learn to, well, if not get along, not be completely antagonistic. And I'm holding out hope that Alex will find someone as sweet as he is. <3

                                  Also, I was wrong last time. This isn't Ahab and the whale, this is more Captain Hook and the crocodile. Clearly what Jade needs to do is feed Legend a cheap mp3 player with an extended battery that's loaded with dubstep. He'll never sneak up on her again! Also, I'm trying to make a terrible and roundabout "drop the bass" pun but it's just not happening. :p
                                  • MagicallyClueless

                                    MagicallyClueless Master Astronaut

                                    oh wow i didn't update the title
                                    my bad
                                    no wonder not many people have read it
                                      Gabaw and ApertureGaming011 like this.
                                    • Kid Absurdity

                                      Kid Absurdity Big Damn Hero

                                      ayyy lmao rekt
                                        Gabaw likes this.
                                      • MagicallyClueless

                                        MagicallyClueless Master Astronaut

                                        kid pls
                                          Gabaw and ApertureGaming011 like this.
                                        • Bellamaryllis

                                          Bellamaryllis Aquatic Astronaut

                                          Ahhh I always love Alex and Seb's cat and dog relationship! It's good to see Alex trying to better himself as a person intellectually as well as physically, and that he's moving on from Sam. It's interesting how a lot of thing are coming to a head now, and the tension keeps rising. Poor Jade :(

                                          I'm so excited you'll be working on this for Nano; it's been such a journey talking to you about your wonderful fic and watching you improve every chapter. Thank you for inspiring me to start one of my own I couldn't have done it without you. <3

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