What a lonely night. Sebastian regretted not spending another night with Jade, though every night without Jade felt like that as of late. He tried to focus on his freelance work, but it proved difficult since he was so worried about Jade and the situation with Abigail. He checked his phone more than usual, but no messages came his way. He wished he had a proper excuse to text Jade himself... she needed a night alone, though. They all did, even if it wasn’t enjoyable. Sebastian did manage to finish a couple jobs, so at least his decision wasn’t a complete waste. But why did he feel so useless? His brain told him that he should stay out of their business, but his gut told him that there had to be a way he could help. Extremely tired, Sebastian decided to listen to neither and sleep away what he could. Saturday morning came, and one of his wishes had been fulfilled! As he checked his phone, the screen notified him of a text from Jade: JADE: I don’t think going to the mines today is a good idea. i’m sorry since we planned it and i was really looking forward to it, but... tell maru i’m sorry too, okay? let’s try again when things with abigail get sorted out. Sebastian sighed, but he was anything but surprised. “I was looking forward to it, too,” he softly mumbled to himself, typing out a response. SEBASTIAN: It’s alright, Jade. Did you sleep well? The text was immediately seen, and right after came a reply. JADE: not really to be honest... SEBASTIAN: That’s no good. You should take it easy today, or at least try to. JADE: i’d love to but i know i have to confront abigail today. i won’t forgive myself if i don’t. i don’t like things being awkward and i just want the situation to be cleared up SEBASTIAN: I understand JADE: thank you for asking by the way. i’m sorry again that we can’t really meet up. i was really excited, and i like seeing you get along with maru SEBASTIAN: There’s always another time, don’t worry about it. The mines will wait for us I’m sure. JADE: you’re the best JADE: um but SEBASTIAN: ? JADE: i haven’t been clingy or anything have i?? am i really around you that much? SEBASTIAN: I’d tell you if I was annoyed or felt smothered, I promise you that. We do hang out a lot, but it’s not like we’re massively affectionate in public. I think the worst we did was kiss in front of my mom at the fair, and she was telling us to JADE: you have a point there. ok i was just making sure JADE: i’m about to go shovel snow and toss some feed to the animals so i’ll talk to you later SEBASTIAN: Be safe JADE: you too with whatever you’re up to today That was the end of that, the raven-hair supposed. A lot of questions must have been running through Jade’s head, but that just gave Sebastian all the more reason to be there and support her. Sighing, he got up and got ready for the day to come. He had a feeling it’d be a long and grueling one. Sebastian skipped breakfast as he normally did, appearing in the kitchen for just a cup of coffee... or not. There was no coffee maker. He sighed to himself, forgetting it was at Jade’s house. Tea it was. While he didn’t prefer it as much, the tea was smooth and soothing for the throat, containing just enough sugar and caffeine to get him properly started for the day. Robin and Demetrius were in other parts of the house working, giving Sebastian the opportunity to approach Maru’s door and give it a gentle knock. “Hey,” he began just loud enough for his voice to pierce through the door. Maru didn’t respond for a few seconds, caught off guard by her sibling’s decision to even approach the door. “Coming in just a sec,” she answered. Sebastian heard some steps just on the other side, and then the door slowly opened, Maru peeking through the opening with soft and curious eyes. “I, uh... just wanted to let you know that Jade and I can’t go to the mines today. Your project will have to wait a bit.” He lowered his head. “Sorry.” It wasn’t good news, but Maru was relieved it wasn’t something worse. “Oh... it’s okay. Thank you for telling me. Did something come up?” A nod from the half-brother. “Yeah. Jade was looking forward to helping you. If the project can wait, we’ll definitely do it later.” “I would go to the mines myself, but... you know, monsters and all.” The novice inventor gave a saddened smile. “It’s a personal project, so I can wait. Are both of you okay?” “We’re fine, just some other stuff to take care of that can’t wait. In fact, I’m about to leave for that purpose. If Mom needs me, I’m in town.” Maru gently waved him off. “Alright, I’ll see you.” Sebastian returned the wave and walked away, going back to his room to grab his scarf, hat, and gloves before heading outside. The snow began falling yet again, so it continued to pile on the fields and pathways, also accumulating ice on the sidewalks and street lamps. Sebastian personally enjoyed the snowfall, but with the consistent cold, he hoped that the weather wouldn’t eventually prevent him from going outdoors. With a festival coming up, he felt the whole town hoped for the same outcome. Driving seemed too dangerous for the time being, so the raven-haired man traveled to his destination on foot. The situation with Abigail was between her and Jade, but Sebastian still wanted a dose of his own answers. For his girlfriend’s sake, he wanted to know why Abigail reacted in such a way and what the real issue was, for he had a feeling it wasn’t about Jade being ‘clingy’. His best opportunity to confront his gothic acquaintance came while Jade was busy, bringing him to Pierre’s general store right after opening time. Upon entering, Pierre was checking his store’s stock and putting fresh vegetables and fruits up for sale. He heard someone walk through the entrance, boasting a hearty “Welcome!” without knowing who arrived. Lifting his head for a brief moment, he saw it was Sebastian, and his excited demeanor diminished in an instant. “Ah, here to shop?” Pierre attempted to ask. “Actually, no. I’m looking for Abby. Is she here?” asked Sebastian, glancing at the many aisles of food and goods to appear less intrusive. “She just left,” sighed the store owner. “I don’t know where she went, since she ignored me when I asked her. I can’t be arsed to care about it right now.” Sebastian, though not on the best terms with Pierre, could agree with him there. “Thank you anyway. I’ll go try to find her. Have a good day,” mentioned the raven-hair, and then he was gone. The search for Abigail began with checking her usual hangout spots: the bridge near the shop, the library, the graveyard, the spot in front of the wizard's tower. She was nowhere to be found, and Sebastian left himself feeling disappointed and somewhat lost. Along the way back to Pierre's shop, he came across Sam walking to work. They both waved to each other, the taller one grinning while the shorter one awaited whatever banter was next. "Whoa, buddy, I haven't seen you up so early. I'm heading to work-- what are you up to?" eagerly asked the blond, clad in his employee uniform. "I'm actually, uh, looking for Abby today. Have you seen her?" he asked. "Hmm..." Sam put his hand to his chin as he tried to think. "Actually, my mom said she saw Abby head up towards your house. Maybe you two passed each other at the wrong time?" Sebastian tiredly exhaled in realization. "She wasn't going to my house. I think I have an idea of where she went, now. Thank you, Sam." He gave his best friend a pat on the arm before leaving. "Don't do anything stupid!" ecstatically yelled Sam. The raven-hair simply responded with a raised hand to signal he heard. He made his way to the last place he could possibly think of: the mines. Though she was afraid of whatever lurked down the mine elevator, it was the last place people would have thought to look. As he arrived, his suspicions were confirmed; Abigail had an old sword in hand and kicked around a stray rock near one of the stone walls. Her face was expressionless and she was unnaturally focused on the rock she was moving. Even when Sebastian entered, there was no indication she noticed or cared. Sebastian took a small breath to ready himself. "Abby," he started to get her attention. She stopped kicking the rock around and lifted her head, but didn't respond. "You didn't come by on saloon night. What's up?" he asked. "Don't even pretend like you don't know," she answered, turning to face him. "Did Jade send you here?" Sebastian shook his head. "No, I came here by myself. I am worried for Jade, but I'm here to fulfill my own curiosity." Abigail dropped her sword and crossed her arms. "Is that so." The raven-hair walked up to Abigail, hands in his pockets. "Yep. So, tell me why you're acting this way." She sighed. "Why should I even talk to you? You never really cared about me to begin with." "That isn't true, Abby." "Then what is?" she retorted. He could already feel that it was going to be a hell of a talk. "Abby," he sighed once more, "I cared about you for a while, and even if we aren't close anymore, I still want to know you're doing alright." Abigail tried to keep her composure, but didn't answer. "Tell me. Is this about you and me? Is it really about Jade?" The amethyst-hair seemed very reluctant to respond. She bit her lip and appeared more upset than before. "I don't know," she eventually said. "What do you mean by that?" instantly asked Sebastian in reply. "I understand we never really got to talk things out before, and it just got awkward." "It did," Abigail muttered in agreement. "I... I'm over that, honestly. I don't really care anymore. It was my fault, and I accept that." "It was both of our faults for failing to come forward," he corrected. She grumbled something under her breath. "Listen, I'm sure you want to hear that some other girl likes you, but that's not the case. I don't have feelings for you." "Then what's the issue?" asked Sebastian, ignoring her extra remarks. "The issue... are you serious?" Abigail looked him in the eye, still somewhat calm but increasing in tension. "Maybe I don't care that we're not so close anymore, Sebby, but that doesn't take away from the fact that Jade's been avoiding me! Even when I tried so hard to not repeat my mistakes!" "Don't call me Sebby," Sebastian muttered nonchalantly. "Really? You care about that now?" He shrugged. "I don't think Jade has been avoiding you. You know she gets really busy with her farming job." Abigail seemed to be much restless than before and uncrossed her arms to clench her fists. "Ever since you two started dating, you don't go to saloon nights as much anymore." "We've only missed a couple, and I think they were for good reasons. We had just started the dating the previous day for one of them, and then Jade got really sick." "She barely gave a hello and a present on my birthday!" the irritated adventurer continued. "She was sick, I was surprised she even went out to give you anything to begin with," Sebastian responded. "I can't ever see her on the weekend, she is always busy or doing something-" "Game nights. We used to invite you to those, but you always found it boring and you didn't enjoy it." The raven-hair saw a bit of a pattern in Abigail's words, and felt like she was trying to find reasons to be angry. There still could have been more, but... he couldn’t see much more than that. “As for your texting, you should know that Jade goes to bed early and wakes up early. You tend to be somewhat of a night owl. The timing is unfortunate, but it’s not her fault... or yours.” "The few times I really got to hang out with her alone were before she started dating you. How has so much changed in such a small amount of time? It can’t be a coincidence.” She growled to herself. “Now I can only ever see her when she's with you or you and Sam," she angrily elaborated, "I even helped her try to confess to you!" Sebastian blinked in surprise. He wasn't aware of Abigail helping. "I feel like that was a mistake," she grumbled with a scowl. "She's changed, and not for the better, while you pretend to be all high and mighty through her influence,” she scoffed. “Don’t think no one’s noticed.” Sebastian's stiff face softened in an attempt to understand. "Abby... I think you're just trying to find reasons to be mad at her. You want to see her more, that's fine... why not just say that to her?" "Because I'll just get shrugged off again! That's what always happened." "What?" "Well, it sure as hell happened with you," she snapped. Sebastian took his hands out of his pockets and rubbed his temples. "Alright. So the stuff that happened with us is the origin after all." He slowly exhaled. "Abby, I'm sorry I didn't handle your affection the way I should have." "I told you already!! It isn't about you!" Abigail snapped. "It's Jade! I have feelings for her, not you!" They both went completely still and stared at each other in shock. Abigail realized what she said, regret planted on her expression. Sebastian still needed time to process the thought. Eventually, Abigail collapsed and leaned against the cave wall. Sebastian slowly followed her lead and plopped beside her. "... I know she's happy with you," Abigail softly muttered. "For a while, it made me happy. I didn't really mind. But it's just. The same damn thing all over again," she breathed in frustration. Sebastian watched her carefully. "... How long?" he asked. "Ugh." Abigail stared at the ceiling in thought. "I guess it was more of a fleeting crush at first, but we became friends pretty fast so it just went on from there. I thought we got along great..." She hugged her knees and rested her head on her legs. "But I know she is just nice. I doubt she even likes girls. And when she gained feelings for you, it was pretty obvious..." The raven-hair emitted another sigh. "I'm sorry." "I was never going to confess anyway. I thought it'd just go away." She frowned. "But she’s the only one who made me feel included. Now, though...” Another sigh. “I wish she looked at me the way she looks at you..." "Abby, listen..." Sebastian laced his fingers together and thought about what to say next with care. "Maybe she doesn't... feel that way... but, she does care about you. She's been worried about you ever since those texts happened. Do you think it's better if you two aren’t friends?" "I don't know," she answered again. "If it keeps going on like this, it'll..." Sebastian internally cursed himself for what he wanted to say. "Look, it got awkward with us because we never came forward and talked. I, kinda had feelings for you too, you know. For a long time after that I didn't really know how to feel about you." "If you're telling me to confess to her, I'm not going to do it. I don't want to impact her happiness like that. It'd just... it'd make it worse, for her." "At the very least, you should tell her why you've been frustrated. I'm sure she would apologize and try to make it right with you." Abigail looked at him for a moment, then shook her head. "That's what I'm afraid of." "Why?" "You really don't get it." She impatiently tapped her feet. Sebastian was quiet for a while, trying to think of how to reply. "Maybe I don't," he admitted. "You don't understand how lucky you are." "I try to." Abigail gritted her teeth. "You were the one to tell her I didn't like the mines, weren't you? That's not something I exactly want going around." "I only told her because she wanted to fight monsters with you," explained Sebastian. "Maybe I wanted to go..." Abigail glared at him. "Just because you are her boyfriend doesn't mean that you dictate who she hangs out with.” Sebastian sighed. "I get you're upset, but I told her that before we were dating. Also, Jade hangs out with whoever she wants to, and I do the same. It was her choice to not ask you." He took a deep breath. "Plus, I remember when we first came here together. I thought I was doing you a favor." "It's not your responsibility to decide, even if you saw how I acted!" Abigail yelled. "I'm scared, so what?! I can get better!" Sebastian tried his best to not get riled up. He found it difficult to truly understand Abigail, but he knew she was upset and never had the chance to really vent her frustrations. Instead, Sebastian kept his fighting thoughts to himself in an attempt to level with the adventurer. "Fine, I'm sorry, then," he mentioned. "Too late for that." Sebastian remained motionless. "I don't care if you hate me. I just want things settled with you and Jade." "I don't know why I ever liked you... and I don't understand what Jade sees in you." Abigail leaned against the wall again and stretched out her legs, kicking whatever dirt remained away. "Sometimes... neither do I," he muttered. "But, I love her. I try my best to be a person she deserves." Abigail's eyes widened. There was silence. "Prove it," she eventually said. "What?" "You’ve never said that about anyone before. Prove you love her." Abigail stood up and grabbed her sword. Sebastian instantly tensed when she picked up the blade, unsure of her intentions. "How?" he asked, getting up after her. "We fight!" she yelled. "Prove to me you'd truly do anything for her like I would, and maybe I can rest easy. My conscience will be cleared." "Wh- Abby, seriously?" He stared at the sword in shock. "You actually want to do this? This is ridiculous." Abigail nodded triumphantly. "I love Jade! I'd fight for her without a second thought. Prove you love her more than I do!" Sebastian was silent for a small moment, trying to sink in the whole situation. "Abby, you've been scared to go in the mines. You haven't practiced-" "Bullshit! Don't say what you don't know. Answer me, unless you think I'm right!" the purple-hair shouted, pointing her sword at Sebastian. "... You know what?" Sebastian glared at her and confidently nodded. "I'll get my sword,” he scowled. Abigail smirked. “Save it for tonight. 10PM, right here.” “So be it. You do realize if I lose, I’m not breaking up with her or anything like that? Something as petty as a sword fight does not define how I feel about Jade.” “Just be ready, Sebby.” He almost thought to correct her, but this time, decided against it. “Seeya,” he said, and then was off. --- Jade didn't really have the chance to talk to Abigail that freezing Saturday. Even though the young farmer's day was fulfilling due to the work she accomplished, it all felt like it was for naught when she arrived at Pierre's shop, only to be turned away by Abigail herself. She had knocked on the door, but there was no answer. Asking Pierre and Caroline of her whereabouts, they both answered that she should have been in her room. If she was there, she was ignoring her. Despite Jade's enthusiastic nature, she knew when to take a hint. In the end, she slipped a letter under Abigail's door for her to read later and left, defeated. She texted Sebastian later to detail her disappointment: JADE: I tried to get in contact with abigail but i think she doesn't want to see me still. ): JADE: I left a letter for her and hope things will be ok. needless to say tho i'm completely exhausted Jade checked her phone half an hour later, but Sebastian did not reply. Some more hours passed, and still nothing. JADE: Are you ok?? or busy?? sorry i've just been worried and idk JADE: Seb??? ): She checked the time. Middle of the afternoon... she supposed he took the day to continue the work he's been backed up on. "Please answer soon," the young farmer sighed. There was no reason for him to not ignore her on purpose... right? "I'm fine, we're fine," she told herself. "Just nerves." That negative feeling stirred and danced within her conscience. She didn't like the feeling, especially since it seemed so otherworldly. Jade decided to spend the rest of the day foraging and digging for new objects. Glancing at the many rivers and lakes throughout the valley, Jade had as much temptation to fish as she had fear for its risks. That same feeling formed in the pit of her stomach again, but she decided not to act on it. She found plenty of plants and vegetables to sell along with a few interesting artifacts. Extending her time out of the farm, she donated what artifacts she could to the museum and kept up with other townspeople, even offering to do simple errands for them. She needed to keep her mind busy, since whenever she didn't, she'd check her phone and just be disappointed at the lack of answers. As night fell, she returned to her farm. Everything was peaceful. No monsters wandered through the fences, the snowfall was beautiful and gentle, and it wasn't snowing so heavily that she had to shovel upon her return. The animals were also doing well, except for Butterscotch, who had been behaving strangely. Marnie wasn't at her store to diagnose, but at least Butterscotch was still eating. Jade did as well as she could have in that point of time, which was good enough until the shop opened, she supposed. Jade expected any sort of reply from Sebastian by then. One part of her wanted to go to his house and make sure he was okay, while the other part assured her that Sebastian was too busy to answer until after he was finished. After all, Sebastian always returned the texts, even if it took a little while. Jade told herself that multiple times so she would stop worrying, and eventually settled for bed after checking her phone one final time. In moments, she fell asleep, her muscles aching for rest. Ping! The sound of a text message caused Jade to wake. She groaned and reached for her phone, turning on the screen. She had only slept a few hours, according to the time, but the text... The text! Her eyes widened. It was Sebastian! Finally! She woke up a little more as she opened to see what the text was. SEBASTIAN: I'm sorry for not replying all day, but I had to take care of some very important things. She was never so happy to receive a text before that moment. Eagerly, she began texting back when she heard a knock on the door. SEBASTIAN: It's me Oh, wow. He arrived so late. Curiously, Jade got out of bed and stepped to the front door, cracking it open to make sure it was him. Seeing his silhouette, she opened the door fully as he shuffled inside, strangely without his jacket. Instead, he had a turtleneck on, but no gloves, no hat, no scarf... his extra clothes were all in his hand for some reason. "Seb?" asked Jade in concern. "What's up?" He did not answer, and instead stumbled forth to tightly hug her. Jade was tense at first, but relaxed when it was apparent he wasn't going to let go for a while. They took in the silence and breathed in an intimate moment with one another. In time, he let go of her and looked into her eyes. Something was different about him. He looked more... alive. Gently, he kissed her. "I'd like to sleep here with you," he muttered. She flushed up heavily and just stared at him, but he seemed too tired to reply and dropped his extra clothes onto the nearby couch. He disappeared into her room, where she stood, dumbfounded. Eventually, she followed him back to the bedroom and settled in her side to sleep. Sebastian had already flopped onto his stomach and hadn't moved an inch, even as Jade adjusted to get comfortable. She didn't get any answer yet, but she was happy Sebastian was safe, and ultimately, by her side. The next day finally fell upon the valley with clear blue skies and bright yellow sunshine, which managed to melt some of the remaining snow. Sebastian woke up without Jade at his side, though it didn’t come as a surprise to him when he saw the clock: 12 PM. Of course he overslept. Sebastian shuffled out of bed and fixed the sheets while half asleep. Without hesitation, he made his way to the kitchen where he started up his coffee maker. Finally, precious coffee. He heard the mewling of Jade’s cat nearby, which then walked to Sebastian’s side and rubbed his leg in greeting. Sebastian mumbled a ‘morning’ to Onyx and poured himself a well deserved mug of coffee when it was ready. His next destination was one of the windows that showed the majority of the farm. His face brightened seeing Jade exit her animal barn and watched her approach the house. She walked in and quickly closed the door behind her, shaking off the cold. “Whew. Still freezing.” She smiled to Sebastian. “Good morning... or, afternoon?” Sebastian casually sipped his coffee. “Whichever one is better to hear.” “So, are you going to explain what happened yesterday?” asked the farmer as she took off her winter coat. “I’m glad you’re alright, but I haven’t s-” She suddenly paused, noticing a lump under one of his sweater’s sleeves, the spot of which was sliced. The raven-hair noticed her line of sight and sighed, face cringing as Jade lifted his sleeve to investigate further. There was a bandage wrapped around his arm, the padding dyed a soft pink from what was presumably his blood. She stared at him in shock. “Sebastian, what is this?” Her nostrils flared. “If you tell me to be safe and stay in contact, I expect you to do the same!” He sighed. “I can explain.” “Then please explain!” Sebastian frowned. “It wasn’t from a monster in the mines or anything like that. I’m just... let’s sit down.” He paused his thought to go to the couch in Jade’s living room, setting his coffee down on a nearby end table. Jade followed him with crossed arms, plopping down and waiting for whatever story he was about to conjure. She didn’t seem to be in a happy mood. “... You have every right to be mad. I’m sorry, but I felt like I needed to do this. You deserve the story.” “Go ahead, then.” Jade calmed down a bit, waiting for him to continue. “I found Abby, and she and I, uh, got in a fight.” “A fight?!” Sebastian watched his girlfriend with a frown, trying to think of how to best explain. What happened with Abigail, it... it was tough. He remembered the previous night, arriving at the mine entrance as he was instructed. He heard steps some ways behind him, but looking back, he noticed Abigail, her posture stiff and movement slow as if she knew a less-than-favorable fate. Patiently, he waited for her to approach, then gave a small wave in greeting. “Are you still sure you want to have a sword fight?” “With all the times you’re asking, it seems like you’re the one that’s not sure.” She smirked at him, portraying the fake confidence that Sebastian was accustomed to seeing. He sighed, unsurprised. “I’ve never fought another person with actual swords. We can’t just do sticks or whatever? I don’t want to hurt you on accident.” “You won’t hurt me, because I’m going to knock you down and show you what I’m made of!” Sebastian frowned. “What is this? Are you trying to prove something to yourself?” Foreseeing her refusal, the raven-haired man removed his precious hoodie, scarf, hat, and gloves. “Shut it.” Abigail raised her sword. “We’re fighting.” Jade settled more on the couch as she watched Sebastian. He stared at the floor in deep thought, then raised his head to look at the farmer. “I do admit I did some prodding... I wanted to know why Abby was acting that way towards you, and I know she wouldn’t tell you. I do talk about awkwardness with her a lot, but, truth is... I know her pretty well.” He sighed. “It’s probably one reason she stuck around with me and Sam so long. I didn’t like being around her anymore, but I did know how she was.” “I see...” The young farmer muttered to indicate her listening. “I eventually found her and we just talked about some stuff. I don’t think it’s right for me to repeat it,” he explained, taking his coffee again. He downed the rest of it and placed the empty mug back on the end table, giving himself another deep breath before continuing. “Things got kinda heated and, she waged that we would have a sword fight to settle it. I didn’t really want to at first, but... I think I needed to.” Jade frowned, brows furrowed in concern. “You could have been hurt a lot more! What about Abigail? Was she hurt?” Sebastian looked forward once more, recalling the moments of the fight. It lasted longer than he thought-- Abigail had been practicing her sword fighting, and she was enraged. Without hesitation, she brought down her blade, but Sebastian was much quicker and much more passive. Every strike was blocked, and every step she took forward was every step he took backward. She got angrier and angrier at each strike, but Sebastian could tell it wasn’t the fight that frustrated her. “I’ll prove you wrong!” she shouted, sweat appearing on her forehead. “I can get by on my own!” Sebastian did not respond and continued to defend himself with care. “I’m not going to make the same mistakes!” she yelled again. He glanced at her once before his attention went back to the swords. “I belong somewhere!” She screamed, catching Sebastian off guard with a devastating swipe. He had backed away in time, but had dropped his sword. Abigail suddenly froze. She stared at his arm and he looked down. Blood accumulated through a cut on his arm. “Shit,” he mumbled to himself, quickly bringing up his sleeve and clasping the cut with his hand. Abigail’s eyes filled up with tears, but Sebastian interrupted her before she could say anything: “It was an accident. I know, despite this fight, you didn’t intend to hurt me.” She immediately dropped her sword and fell to the ground, lying on her back to stare at the blackened ceiling. Only the soft orange light of nearby lanterns kept the top floor of the mines visible. Her tears could no longer be held in, and she silently cried. “Did the fight make you feel better?” asked Sebastian. His head tilted downwards to see her. For the longest time, Abigail didn’t really reply. She didn’t move, only staring at the cave’s rock formations, a million thoughts rushing through her head. She built up the strength to reply after many concentrated moments... “If Jade doesn’t accept me, then what am I doing here? What am I doing just following all of you around?” Sebastian softly exhaled and watched her for a moment. “Abby, Jade still values you as a friend.” “Just a friend won’t get me anywhere in this town. I’ve always been an outcast. I always will be.” Warm tears streamed down her face, but she showed no expression. “Then... find somewhere you do belong.” Sebastian frowned. “... I did have Sam, but it’s not like I was really... happy here, in Pelican Town.” “You weren’t?” “No. I was saving up money to move to Zuzu City,” he said. The cut started to sting, causing Sebastian to clasp tighter and unknowingly wince. “But... Well... I don’t want to leave anymore.” Abigail closed her eyes. “So you really do love her that much, huh?” she asked. Sebastian sat beside her. “I do,” he answered. More silence. “You’re a good fighter, Abby.” He smiled a little. “I’m impressed with how much you practiced. Maybe you will be able to go down the mines someday.” “... I’m sorry,” she breathed. “What?” Sebastian asked, confused. Abigail finally looked in his direction. “I... I realize how I’ve acted to you. It wasn’t fair. It’s not fair how I acted to Jade, either. I haven’t found my place here yet, and, it’s frustrating... I thought I could get somewhere with Jade, but...” she shook her head. “I ended up taking it out on everything.” It suddenly clicked for Sebastian. This fight. “... It’s okay,” he softly replied. “Maybe I just liked the idea of being with Jade more than Jade herself,” she sadly laughed. “I don’t think I’m ready for anything like that yet. Seeing you, I... I think what I feel is different. I don’t feel so strongly.” “It happens,” muttered Sebastian. “We’ve all felt that way about someone before.” “... Thanks.” She sadly laughed. “For letting me throw a tantrum.” “You have nothing to thank me for.” Sebastian stood up once more. “You should get some rest, Abby. I need to patch myself up.” The raven-hair walked to the mouth of the cave entrance and turned to watch her. Eventually, she nodded and got up, grabbing her sword. She walked out before Sebastian did, but paused at the other side of the opening. Quickly and gently, she gave him a hug, then continued walking. Sebastian watched her leave for a while, slowly breathed, and then turned to watch the lake for a few moments. After giving himself a moment, he finally began his trek towards the carpenter shop. “She wasn’t hurt,” Sebastian explained, pausing to give a moment of thought. “I originally thought I needed to fight her to prove myself, but the reality was... she was the one who needed to prove herself,” Sebastian explained in an attempt to word himself carefully. “But, it was good. I think she felt better in the end, and... I did some thinking, too.” “Yeah?” Jade tilted her head. He smiled. “Yeah. I do feel a bit bad for Abby, but... I think she made me realize how lucky I am.” “Lucky with what?” “Ugh, don’t make me say it. It’s so embarrassing.” He lightly shoved her on the side, causing her to laugh. “So, everything’s okay?” she asked. Sebastian nodded. “They should be. I hope Abby will approach you soon, but, for now, I’d give her time.” Just then, there was a knock at the door. The two lifted their heads from the sound, looking towards the front door. “Man, what timing,” Jade chuckled as she got up to approach the door. No one other than Abigail waited on the other side as she opened it. “Hi, Jadey,” Abigail began. Her expression wasn’t ecstatic, but she seemed at peace. “I just wanted to say sorry. I overreacted to you, and I hope we’re still friends.” The young farmer seemed taken aback by the notion that they wouldn’t be friends to begin with. “Of course we’re still friends. I was worried I upset you. I mean, I was a little cranky from the time you texted me, but I know we haven’t been hanging out very much. I’d like us to have those chances!” she beamed. Abigail welcomed such enthusiasm from Jade. She seemed to be more cheerful than some of her more sad instances; it made Abigail happy, too. “I’m sure we’ll hang out in time. Actually, um, I think I’m going to be more occupied so we may see each other less.” “Why is that?” “Adventuring is my passion, you know? I think it’s time I took that seriously. I...” Abigail laughed at herself. “I need to grow up, honestly. I’m unhappy here. I’m an outcast. I can’t just... expect that to change, even with you, the newest villager, here.” Jade’s face saddened from her words. “I don’t think you’re an outcast,” she mumbled. The purple-haired adventurer gazed at Jade, still smiling. “It’s okay. I think for a while I denied it, but I’ll be happier finding where I belong.” She pat Jade on her shoulders. “You belong here.” She chuckled a bit. “You think so?” “I know so,” Abigail confidently replied. “Anyways, I’m gonna be off now. I should probably finish up my college classes.” “Ah, good luck!” Jade enthusiastically replied. “So... we’re good?” The adventurer giggled, then hugged the farmer. “Yes, we’re good.” A sigh of relief from Jade. “I’m glad! Good luck with everything you’re set to do.” “Thank you.” Abigail grinned and waved as she started walking off. “Good luck with all your stuff, too!” “Thank you!” Jade shouted as the distance increased between them. When she was far enough away, Jade retreated back inside and joined Sebastian back on the couch. “Was that who I thought it was?” Sebastian asked, stretching out in his seat. She nodded and smiled. “Abigail seems a lot better. I’m happy for her, and glad it’s over now.” “Me too,” Sebastian sighed in agreement. “Now we just have to worry about the Festival of Ice tomorrow.” Jade’s expression suddenly dropped. She stared at Sebastian, eyes daring him to deny what he said. “... The what?” A long winter was ahead of them. Abigail was never a major character by any means in my story, but she still deserved some time in the spotlight and I wanted to address some issues that probably aren't focused on too much, such as Abigail's relationship with the others in town, the bros, and her own immaturity. Of course, my own interpretations may be different from others, but this is definitely how I wanted to show and develop her in my story. There are a lot of interesting, kinda sad, aspects of Abigail that tend to get ignored. I think she has the most insecurities of anybody, but pretends they aren't there. Relatable in an interesting way. Hopefully all of you enjoyed the chapter, and also hopefully the whole thing with Abigail didn't come out of nowhere. I did have some plans to address it before the last chapter but for a while it was always hard for me to find where she could go, which is hilarious, since that's kinda part of her character too. Anyways, thank you very much for reading!