Lost Fragments @teamcap
Stage 1: Shock and Denial

Now this fanfic is way different than my previous works. This should be my second fanfic in this account, but the story turned out to be way complex in spite of the simple theme, so it was shelved until the second semester ended.

Trigger warning: death mentions and a possible mention of suicidal thoughts in later chapters.

Disclaimer: I own nothing but the story. Please don't sue me if there are any similarities between this fanfic and your personal experience. I never intended to make this similar to your personal experiences. I've written this for fun, for the people who want to read and enjoy this fanfic.

Stage 1 - Shock and Denial

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Ominous dark clouds slowly surrounded the clear, blue sky, shrouding this peaceful yet vast city with darkness. Darkness that cloaked the now beautiful, sunny day, darkness that d and released a melancholic aura.

Rain droplets started falling freely from the saturated clouds afterwards, as a result of the earth's gravity pulling the rain droplets downwards. The cool rain water later hit the rooftops, structures, roads, and pavements, along with some people walking through it, engulfing them, soaking them with its cool rain water.

Blue let out a sigh, watching the once dry walls of the structures, the roads and the sidewalks being drenched by the rainwater. She placed her hands on the mug of hot coffee with her gentle fingers wrapping it, lifting it until it's a few centimeters below her lip. Her eyes now turned to her friend, observing him. Her lips slightly curved downwards at the confused emotions burning in his eyes.

She let out another sigh. This time, in despair. Her gaze went to her cup of coffee. Not a moment later, she released a gentle blow to cool her drink. She knew their talk will be related to their common friend. She can feel it, for she has never seen that much complexity in his eyes since their high school years.

"So..." She started, grabbing his attention. She took a gentle sip from her cup of coffee. "What's with all the kerfuffle?" She gave the lad a curious yet worried look.

"Uh..." Ruby swallowed hard, his fingers gently gripping the table cloth. He stared at the plates of cakes and pastries placed on the table.

How would he start?

Maybe...

Maybe he should start thinking about it first.

Well, lately, he just didn't know what was going on with Sapphire. She'd been acting kind of strange. The glee, feistiness and determination in her eyes were gone and it was somehow shrouded with misery and intense dullness. He tried asking her what was going on, but she never responded a word. He couldn't help but to worry.

He wanted to see her beautiful smile again.

He wanted to feel her blissful aura again.

He needed to know what exactly was going on with her.

How would he know her problem if she wouldn't even talk about it? The only conclusion he could think of for now was to ask one of their friends, Blue, for help. She practically knew everything about anyone. But most importantly, she was their friend, so she had to know something. He released a sigh. He was desperate to help and to know what was going on with her.

"It's…" He started, his tone sounding despaired at his recent interaction with their friend. "I-It's Sapphire... she..." He bit his lip, glancing at his friend. She nodded, gesturing him to continue. "She's... starting to worry me. I don't know what's going on with her. Is she... Is she alright?"

"Let me guess," Blue lifted her left index finger, tapping her chin. Her lips curved into a sly smile. "Is there something going on with your relationship with her?" She asked, giving him a mischievous wink.

Ruby's face increased its temperature from the question. He had this slight suspicion she meant it romantically. He didn't understand the sudden shift of aura around their vicinity, but one thing was certain he had absolutely no idea why some of their friends often teased them about it. It didn't mean he and Sapphire were always together, it didn't mean there was something going on between them. Right? "W-Wait, w-hat? N-No, n-nothing's going on." He grumbled, gathering his serious tone together. What made her think of it? He was starting to feel a bit uncomfortable at the sudden change of mood. "I... I just need to know what's going on with her."

Blue let out a contented giggle at his reaction. She often loved to tease them about their possible romantic relationship. She probably wouldn't stop despite the lovebirds were already in a relationship. Nonetheless, this meet up wasn't about it, so it was best to not dig deeper into that topic. "I know. I'm just messing with you. The gloomy atmosphere is kind of making me uncomfortable."

Ruby bit his lip, nodding at her response. He agreed on at how uncomfortable the gloomy atmosphere that'd been surrounding them. However, he still couldn't believe he fell into one of her tricks. When would he learn?

"Anyways," Blue continued, grabbing his attention. "I'll tell you what's going on with her."

Ruby sat up straight. He focused all of his attention on his older friend.

"But…" She crossed her arms, releasing a depressed sigh. "You have to promise me not to tell her that I told you... Deal?"

Ruby raised an eyebrow at her condition. He gave her a puzzled look. "How come...? Is it that bad?" He asked, hoping and praying it is not a serious problem.

Blue nodded her head, frowning. She gave him a serious yet depressed look. "It's devastating."

He swallowed hard, clenching his teeth and bracing himself for the worst. "Alright, I... I won't tell her. I promise."

"She lost everything."

He blinked from her response, still registering what she just said. "W-What?"

"She lost everything." Blue repeated and held onto the cup tightly. "Her father, her aunt, her only family... all of them... in just... just one accident."

Ruby felt the weight of the world fell onto his shoulders. His back fell on the chair with one hand on his forehead, his fingers gently massaging it. When did it all happen? How come she didn't tell him?

"They're planning to surprise her a few days after her research's success at such a young age. They... They died in an accident thanks to that reckless and drunk..." Blue bit her lip and took a deep breath, calming herself. She thought that kind of accidents only happened in films or in novels, but she was wrong. It was probable in the real world.

But...

Why did it have to happen to their friend?

Sapphire didn't even deserve it! She already lost her mom in such a young age, and losing her aunt and her father brought nothing but intense pain and sadness in her friend's heart. She wished she could do something to help her friend. She had never seen Sapphire lose interest in almost everything, especially her work. She was usually enthusiastic in her work. It was what she had been yearning for since their high school years.

Blue bit her lip. She hoped and prayed Sapphire would be alright despite the tragedy. Although Sapphire wasn't completely alright at the time, Blue believed she would be. She had to be alright. "I-It's because of that accident... that strong impact... It... I-It devastated her."

Ruby gently nodded at her words, still having a hard time registering everything she had said. His sorrowful gaze was now fixed on the table. He swallowed hard, sighing in despair. His right fingers gripped the spoon on the plate. He felt pity at her loss. He felt sad after knowing what happened to her and her family. It perfectly explained why Sapphire wasn't herself.

"Why didn't she tell me?" His tone was full of fear and sympathy. How long was she hiding this from him? How come he didn't know it sooner?

Blue turned her gaze at the cup of coffee she held. She too felt pity for Sapphire. After all, Blue had never seen Sapphire devastated in her life. Sapphire was usually the optimistic one. She was not the kind of person to easily give up despite the different levels of challenges in life. But the moment Sapphire lost her family, she too had lost all her optimistic qualities in life. "She wants to bear the pain alone. After all, it's her family. She's been doing that for two weeks, actually. You of all people should know that."

Ruby gritted his teeth. He couldn't help but to be mad at himself.

What Blue said was true.

He was Sapphire's best friend. He should have helped her overcome her grief instead of reassuring himself that she would be alright on the very next day. He clenched the spoon further and bit his lip. He should have known better. "I've got to help her." He says softly, removing his right hand from the spoon. "She doesn't deserve this."

Blue let out a sigh. She turned her gaze at a drenched man crossing the street. She truly doesn't deserve it, but... A frown appeared on her lips as she thought of the times she tried helping Sapphire every time she visited her apartment. She may have been there for her, but Sapphire's condition still hadn't changed. She was still depressed. "It's gonna be hard."

"That's a chance I'll have to take." He responded, his tone was determined, making Blue stare at him with wonder. "She... She has a lot of dreams to accomplish. I know most of them involve her family, but she... she can't just give up. She can't just waste her years of studying and working really hard for… for nothing."

Blue finished her cup of coffee. She placed it on the table and gave him a serious, honest look. "You like her more than a friend, am I right?"

Ruby felt his cheeks were burning. He averted his gaze at her and fixed it on the table once again. He hated to admit it, but Blue was right. He liked Sapphire more than a friend. In fact, his feelings for her were more than just a simple infatuation.

He didn't know how it developed throughout the years...

It just...

...popped out in the middle of nowhere. He opted not to tell that to Blue. It'd be absolutely embarrassing if she found out. "I don't know what you're talking about," Ruby lied.

Blue could only nod at his response. It was obvious Ruby liked Sapphire more than a friend. He did treat Sapphire differently than everyone. Whenever something was troubling her, he was usually the most anxious person about it and he would never hesitate to make her feel better. Ruby was always there to help Sapphire, and Blue was happy at that. She could totally rely on Ruby whenever something was troubling their friend. "I'll let it hang in the air for now." She said.

Ruby nervously averted his gaze at her. He was anxious. He hoped Blue wouldn't find out about it. He knew that Blue knew a lot about anyone, but a part of him still hoped she wouldn't find out. He didn't want Sapphire to feel embarrassed. He truly cared for her. Ruby was sure that he wouldn't have any internal peace if Sapphire wasn't alright.

He swallowed hard.

He knew that Sapphire was in her office, but he hoped she was okay. She could be emotionally vulnerable at times and he was afraid she could have an emotional break down when he was not around.

He mentally shook his head. He shouldn't let his anxiety consume him. Besides, Sapphire was mature enough to put her work above her emotions.

The raindrops hit the concrete loudly, mixing with the café's faint chats from its other customers. Blue decided to break the silence around their vicinity after eating the cinnamon bun by giving him a sympathetic look. "You know..." She started, making him look at her quizzically. "Confessing one's feelings won't help her feel better, especially at her condition. Ruby, just please, please promise me to be there for her. Sapphire needs us. We have to be there for her."

Ruby bit his lip, nodding at her words.

Frankly, Blue didn't need to remind him. He would always be there for her. He swear he would be there for her. She had been with him during his toughest times, and it was now his turn to be there for her in her tough times. He would never give up on her just like she did to him eight years ago.

"However..." Blue continued, frowning. Her depressed gaze met the empty cup of coffee. "We can't..."

Ruby furrowed his eyebrows, wondering at her words. How come?

"She's shutting everyone out. For two weeks she's been grieving alone, and I can't stand seeing her like that."

"Then..." Ruby took a deep breath. "I'll visit her first thing tomorrow. I don't care if it isn't my day off. I have to know that she's alright. She has to be alright." He said without any hesitation wandering in his heart. Their friends had tried bringing her out of her grief, and it was now his turn. In fact, he was determined to help her conquer it. She needed to know that life still had a plan for her in spite of the tragedy.

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Ruby woke up early on the next day and went to Sapphire's place. Sapphire often leaves her apartment at six-thirty. He thought. He would be able to talk to her before she could go to work. He stopped walking, letting out a sigh to ease his anxiety, and knocked on the door three times.

There was no answer after that, however.

He swallowed hard, knocking on the door again. It was a bit louder and longer this time.

After waiting for several seconds, Sapphire opened the door much to his relief. He gave her a smile, but she didn't smile back like she used to. Her expressions were the same as before. It was dull and miserable.

"Sapphire, I..." Ruby started, his tone was anxious from seeing her condition. "I need to talk to you. I-It won't take long. I promise."

Sapphire stared at him with the same expressions. After a minute of silence, she further opened the door and let him in.

They sat on the couch with Sapphire offering a cup of coffee. He shook his head at the offer to which she responded with a shrug. She sat beside him and fixed her gaze on the cup of coffee. Her mind was blank at his sudden visit, for all she had to care at the moment is the grief gripping and flooding in her heart. Another moment of silence, she finally spoke. "Yer lucky it's my day off. Now, what is it?"

He placed his hands on her chin, removing her gaze on the coffee. He brought her face up and looked into her eyes. His expressions were filed with sympathy and guilt. "I..." He exhaled, hoping to remove the emotional dead weight off his shoulders. Though it hurt him seeing her like this, he should be patient and do his best to help her. She didn't deserve any of this. "I know why."

His words immediately made her avert gaze at him. She bit her lip. She knew what he meant, and what took him so long? It had been two weeks and he now felt pity for her? "Then leave."

"I won't. You need someone to make you feel better." He removed the cup of coffee in her hands and placed it on the table. He grabbed her hands and gave it a soft squeeze. "I know you feel miserable for your family's loss. That's why I'm here for you. I'm here to help you conquer that grief. Sapphire, it's been two weeks."

She could feel grief flood into her heart, gripping it with all the negativity it contains. Why did he sound desperate? There was nothing he could do. "How'd ya find out? Did Blue tell you about it?"

He slowly nodded at her question.

What else could he say, really?

He couldn't lie to her, and he promised he would never lie to her. "Well... y-yes, but she didn't tell it on purpose. I asked her."

"Please, leave."

Her tone sounded sad, and it was starting to worry him. Why was she shutting him out? She had experienced too much pain. She'd had enough pain.

"I need to be alone."

"No, you don't. You've taken enough pain, and I can't allow it. I can't bear to see you sad." Ruby responded. He could feel his emotions were taking control over him despite how hard he tried to resist it. He slowly scooted closer to her.

He wanted to hug her.

He wanted to tell her she would be alright from now on.

"Why do ya care?" She asked bitterly. His concern was making her emotions go on a rampage. She bit her lip, swallowing hard.

That was strange.

She had never felt any complexity in her emotions for the past two weeks besides misery. In fact, misery and despair were her only emotions. Those were the results of her grief.

"I care because I'm your best friend."

"If you are, then you'll understand why I wanted to be alone." She quipped bitterly. She shoved her hands away from his clasp, but he prevented it by squeezing it gently.

"Sapphire, have ever seen yourself?!" Ruby cried as anxiety burned and gripped every fiber of his being. "You look tired, physically and emotionally! D-Depressed, even. I... I can't stand seeing you like this! You deserve to be happy after all the hard work you've put into! You can't just give up everything after their death! Have you ever considered what will your family react after seeing your state?!"

Sapphire felt her fists trembling from his question. What would her family react? What would they say? She honestly had no idea, but one thing was certain. They could not tell her their reaction in their state. "I... I haven't..." She muttered, her voice trembling at the thought. "Ruby, I haven't considered what will they react because they're gone." Sapphire finished, her tone was angry and gloomy. She bit her lip to prevent her tears from coming out. Her fists continued to tremble at her rampaging emotions. "They're gone... They're gone... I wouldn't know..."

Ruby gently squeezed her hands. A frown appeared on his lips at her condition.

It was too much.

She had been hiding it for two weeks. She had to let it all out. She had to let someone bear that pain with her.

"I wouldn't know or consider what they would say because..." Sapphire felt a lump on her throat, coughing it out instead. For two weeks she had been hiding every bit of her grief at her family's death. She had cried several nights for it, but this...

This was different. Crying in front of her friend after their death was a different case. He was able to see and to feel her depression instead of keeping it to herself. She didn't want to be a burden to them, which was the reason why she had hidden the pain in the first place. It was her family, after all. "T-They're dead... T-They're gone..."

"Sapphire..." Ruby mumbled sorrowfully. He finally got to see her rampaging emotions from her family's loss.

Blue was right.

Her emotions were intensely negative that she couldn't help but to be miserable.

"It's okay, I'm here." He brought his hand up to cup her cheek. He caressed it gently and pulled her closer for a hug. "It's okay to cry."

Sapphire couldn't help it any longer. Her tears slowly started falling freely from her eyes. All of the misery she felt for the past two weeks finally came out from her tears. She let him hug her while she buried her face onto his chest and let out a few sobs. "Why do they have to leave me? Why do they have to die? I already lost my mom when I was a kid. She..." She sobbed again, making Ruby place his left hand on her back. He moved his hand circularly in hopes to soothe her from sobbing. He had never seen her cry since that incident in their younger years. Nothing could take her down and make her cry since that incident, in fact.

"She died from that cancer disease, a-and... w-weeks ago, I... I lost my dad and my aunt... They're... They're the only family I have left and now... t-they're gone."

Ruby didn't say a word. Instead, he held onto their hug for as long as he could. He had never experienced losing a family member whom he had a close bond with. It was true he would never know her actual melancholy, but he didn't know why he could feel her pain, misery and regrets. Maybe she was his best friend. Maybe she was his first crush and first love. Maybe this deep feeling for her was helping him understand what she was feeling.

"I'm sorry." Sapphire let go of their hug and moved several inches away from him.

He gave her a sympathetic look. Why was she apologizing?

"My tears soaked your shirt. I know why you hate seeing your outfit be a mess."

"Sapphire, it's okay. It doesn't matter." He said softly and grabbed her hands again. Its warm contact on hers made her look at him. "At least, you got to let go of those cooped up emotions. Are you... feeling better?"

She bit her lip, letting out a sigh at his question. Honestly, nothing had changed. She still felt depressed from her family's loss. They mean a lot to her. Knowing that they were gone after one of the biggest accomplishments in her life broke her heart terribly. She never got to see them alive again. She never got to talk to them again.

The last time she saw them was at their funeral. She had lost her path in life the day she'd known their death. It felt like she lost everything that mattered to her. "I... don't."

Her response brought back his anxiety. He knew helping her would be a tough task. But he was determined despite the circumstances. "How can I help?"

She bit her lip and turned her gaze at their clasped hands. She appreciated it, but there was nothing he could do. "You can't."

"But I have to." He spoke with anxiety and sympathy forming in him. What did she mean he couldn't help her?

She couldn't give up now that she had accomplished some of her goals. She couldn't let this grief control her. And he would be there to help her.

"Nothing can change the past." She spoke quietly and let out a quiet sniffle. "There's no point of going through your life when you lost someone or something important to you."

"Yes, there is!" Ruby held onto her hands tightly. She looked at him with the same dull and miserable expressions. However, the main difference was her now red eyes and puffy eyelids as a result from her crying earlier. "I'll be with you throughout. I promise, I swear I will."

Sapphire kept on stared at him with the same sad and pained expressions. "We have to go on our separate ways one day, Ruby. I might as well wait for my death."

He felt his heart anxiously thump faster at her last word. She didn't mean saying it, right? "Sapphire, please, no, don't." Ruby pleaded, sincerity and anxiety gripped his tone. "P-Please, don't think like that."

His anxious response surprised her.

Why did he care?

Why did he sound afraid? Why couldn't he just accept the fact that nothing can make her feel better?

"We won't go our separate ways because... I wanted to be with you, Sapphire. I want you to be a part of my life. I-I can't bear to see you like this. I want you to be happy. Don't wait for your death. You have a lot of stuff to accomplish. It's true because your family, your friends and I know it. Don't think like that, please." He removed his right hand on hers and brought it to cup and to caress her cheek. She trembled a bit from his touch.

What made him act like this?

Why would he do this?

What is even going on with him?

"You can overcome your grief. I'm here to help."

"W-Why do ya care?!" She could feel her warm tears flowing down her eyes. She knew nothing but misery these past weeks. But what were these ambiguous emotions forming in her? "Why am I so important to ya?!"

Ruby couldn't control his emotions any longer. He couldn't take any more of this. He didn't want to see her cry again. She was too important to him. If she ever mentioned that death topic again, he would lose his mind and tell her why she deserved to live. Some tears fell from his eyes which made her look at him with shock.

Why was he crying?

"Because you mean a lot to me! I love you, Sapphire. I-I can't remember when these feelings developed, but... it just happened. I love you more than a friend. Seeing your current state... I-I can't help but worry. There's a reason why you're still alive, and you often say that to me. But how come you forget that? You deserve to live, and I'll make sure you do."

His answer made her mouth gape and her eyes stare at him with astonishment. He loved her more than a friend? Was that the reason why he cared? Was that the reason why he came here? "Co... I..." Sapphire felt a lump on her throat, making her speechless. She couldn't do anything but to stare at him. Why was she feeling like this? Why did she felt happy, mad, confused and sad at once?

Ruby opened his mouth to gasp for air. His eyes widened in shock. He shouldn't have let his emotions control him. He didn't mean to confess to her. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have confessed to you. But..." He released another sigh. The sincere emotions in his eyes didn't fade, however. "I meant everything I've said. I love you, Sapphire, and nothing can ever change that."

Sapphire's face darkened, her arms trembled slowly. She now wanted to be alone. What he said made her emotions go on a rampage. "Leave."

"Sapphire, please, I—"

She shoved her hand away from him and stood up. She looked at him with confusion and rage. "I know what I said, Ruby. Leave."

Ruby stood up as well. He gave her an anxious and sympathetic look. He chose the wrong time to confess. Despite that he didn't want to leave, he forced himself out of her apartment, cursing himself. He was just as confused as she was. He clenched his fists and gritted his teeth, mad at himself.

He had to set things right.

He had to come back here tomorrow before she leaves for work.

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...

Ruby took a glance at his wristwatch which says six in the morning. He quickly shut his apartment door and walked his way to his destination which was three blocks away from his. Before he took his first step away from his apartment, his eyes widened in shock at the person in front of him. "D-Dad?"

He only had one question in his mind. What is his father doing here? He was supposed to be at his work at this hour. He was probably here for a reason, right? It was his first time visiting him in his apartment, after all.

A small smile plastered across Norman's lips, giving him his usual stoic look. He nodded at his son's question. "So..." He started, scanning the residential building. "This is where you live. I was expecting you live in a fancy condominium."

Ruby's apartment was located at the first floor of a five-storey building in the suburban area of the city. The apartment was designed to be a typical residential building with a properly constructed soil foundation, beams, slabs and columns. Ruby managed to live peacefully in it nonetheless. The reason why he was stuck in the first floor was because of a bet with his older friend, Gold.

Since both wanted that beautiful, same apartment space which was bigger in terms of its area, giving a spectacular garden view at the top floor, Gold proposed a bet. Ruby, on the other hand, was desperate to own that place for a while so he decided to accept it.

The bet was simple: whoever drank the most wine would get the apartment. It was supposed to be beer, but Gold was scolded and literally got kicked on the gut by their other older friend, Crystal. She told him that going drunk a day before work was a terrible idea. Ruby mentally thanked his older friend. After all, he didn't want to be drunk on his first day at work and he also didn't drink beer. He managed to drink two glasses of wine while Gold hastily drank three bottles of wine. Ruby was surprised that his friend drank all the three bottles of wine which gave him no choice but to accept defeat. He would eventually live in a fancy condominium one day.

Ruby nodded slowly, his eyes not averting his father's. He smiled at his father's presence. It sure was nice to see him again. "I don't have enough money yet, but I'm working on it. H-How did you know that I...?"

Norman's smile grew wider. He knew his son would ask that. "Sapphire told me a long time ago. But this is only the free time I got to visit you before you leave for work."

"I... uh..." Ruby glanced at his apartment. Should he invite his father inside or not? Despite that it was to see him again, he really needed to go to Sapphire's place before she leaves. "I suppose... y-you wanna go inside?"

Norman shook his head, his smile disappearing. "I won't stay for a while. Let's just walk and talk."

Ruby nodded and approached his father. He placed his hands in his pockets, walking beside him. He bit his lip, swallowing hard. They may have settled their differences years ago, but being anxious every time they were alone together was an inescapable habit.

"W-What do you want to talk about it?" He asked after a moment of silence listening to his anxious heartbeat. His anxious gaze met his father's stoic yet serious one. He swallowed hard. Whatever it was, it must be important.

Norman took something in his pocket and gave it to his son. Ruby scanned the small, white envelope curiously. "I'm afraid we'll only have a short time talking, but at least I gave you that letter."

"What's in it?" He asked and placed it in his pocket.

"It's a letter for Sapphire. Her aunt is... is a bit classy when it comes to personal messages. She told me to hand it to her weeks ago, but I don't know where Sapphire's apartment is. She should have received it sooner, but…" Norman closed his eyes and let out a sigh. The thought made his heart sank. He too knew about the tragedy. It hurt seeing his friend pass away. Birch was a smart and a good man. He was one of his close friends too. "You know the rest."

"This... must be important..." Ruby mumbled softly and looked at his wristwatch which says six-ten. It was still early. He still had time to catch up to her.

"Anyway, I'll be going. Do me a favor and give that to Sapphire." Norman stopped on his tracks and placed his hand on Ruby's left shoulder. He gave him a nod. "I'll be going back to work as well. Be sure to visit us at the house. It's hard living alone."

Ruby nodded slowly, smiling at his father's offer. "I will."

"Good to know." Norman patted his son's shoulder a few times and bid his farewell. He turned on the right and walks to the other side of the suburbs.

Ruby let out a sigh and clenched his fists tightly. Now he had more reasons why Sapphire needed to conquer her grief. He picked up his pace and went straight to her apartment.

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...

...

Before he was able to knock on the door, Sapphire opened it. They stared at each other for a moment, still shocked at the sudden coincidence, until Sapphire took a step outside and closed the door. She bit her lip and fixed her gaze on the ground. Honestly, she wasn't ready or in the mood to talk to him after his confession yesterday.

"Sapphire, can I... talk to you for a second?" Ruby asked, breaking the silence. He stared at her, his eyes filled with guilt and sympathy. He felt like he made it worse after that certain incident yesterday.

She ignored his question and started walking away from him and her apartment. "I've got to go to work."

"Wait, let me walk you there."

"I can take care of it."

"I know, just..." Ruby grabbed her hand which made her stopped walking. She refused to look at him after everything that had happened and shoved her hand away from him. He held on to her hand tighter to prevent it. "Just... hear me out. I... uh... my dad said that I need to deliver this letter to you." He grabbed the letter in his pocket and handed it to her.

Sapphire stared at the small, white envelope for a moment, reluctantly accepting it. She eyed it curiously. Why would this letter be important? It didn't seem to contain money or anything important. "Uh... thanks?" She shrugged off her backpack, placing the letter in it. "I better go."

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...

"Stop following me." Sapphire turned around, her gaze irked gaze met the person who had been following her, who was none other than Ruby himself. She shot him a glare. Why on earth would he be following her?

This was the fifth time she told him to stop following her. But, Ruby was just too stubborn to comply with her request. She just didn't know why, but he kept on reassuring he was just too concerned for her.

He just wanted her to go from one place to another safely. He said would rather walk a long distance from her place to his work than to not follow her, and it irked her. He did know she was perfectly capable of handling herself. She was not that fragile, five-year old girl anymore.

"I can't." was all Ruby could respond. He couldn't help but to control his smile from her adorable reaction every time she turned around and told him that. It felt like it was always natural for her to be that cute.

"Then stop yourself from following me! I can take care of myself." She turned her heel around and continued walking with a pout on her face. His stubbornness just kept on irking her. It was odd it made her forget her grief for a moment. "That idiot."

Ruby let out a soft chuckle at her reaction. He just simply could not resist her cuteness. He frankly had this sudden urge to hug her and to kiss her forehead. Wait, what the...?! He shook his head, waking himself. Where did that come from? He would make their situation worse if he ever did that. He sighed, his left fingers rubbing his forehead. He really needed to stop that thought from expanding.

Sapphire made it to her office after thirty minutes of walking. Her time span of walking from her apartment to her office was usually twenty minutes, but somehow Ruby caused that ten-minute delay. The reason was obvious: he didn't stop from following her. She got tired of telling him to not follow her after the tenth trial. Thus, she continued walking to her office with a thought of Ruby being an idiot. If she were in the mood, she would have probably punched him.

"I guess I'll see you later at five."

She turned around to look at him only to see his warm, passionate smile at her. His cheerful mood and heartwarming smile suddenly made her heart thumped. That was weird. Why was she feeling like this? It was true she did have feelings for her childhood friend, but she was certain it wasn't more than friendship. Or, was it until now? She mentally growled at her thoughts. All she felt was misery and nothing else. Her life was nothing without her family. "I don't know. I might come home late."

"Then I'll wait for you."

She removed her gaze at him and fixed it on the walkway. Why did he care? She knew it was what friends do, but was he doing this because she was more than a friend to him? She didn't understand why he was willing to wait for her. It wasn't like she couldn't go back to her apartment when the sun had set. She could take care of herself. "Don't. I can take care of myself."

"I'll still wait. I want you to arrive home safely." He always wanted to give her a hug since this day started. She did need it after two weeks of containing her grief. Ruby reluctantly took a few steps towards her, thinking if he should do it or not. "B-By the way, my dad said that letter is important. You have to read it."

The proximity of his voice made her flinch a bit. "I—" Before she could respond, Ruby wrapped his arms around her for a hug, surprising her.

Sapphire wanted to remove his arms around her and gave him a punch he deserved. However, her body refused to do that, which was weird. She never let anyone hug her since her family's death. She thought it would never help her feel better. But why did she feel safe every time he hugged her? Why was her misery slowly disappearing through his hug?

"Take care, and stay safe." Ruby said, concern and sympathy present in his tone, as he slowly removed his arms around her. "I'll see you later."

Sapphire bit her lip, watching Ruby leave the building. She didn't understand why he was willing to help her. She knew she could understand his reasons, but she shouldn't think about it for now. She had to go back to work.

Right?

Sapphire sighed, clenching her fists. She felt grief slowly flooding her heart. Why would she have to work? Why was it necessary for her to work anyway? Her life was nothing since her family's death, after all. What would even she do with the money she received from it? She vigorously shook her head at those thoughts. She may not knew the answer yet, but one thing was certain: working was the only way to distract and occupy herself from this grief.

I have to confess I've written this chapter last year. I made a lot of revision on this guy and this is the final product. I hope you like it. And I would like to thank my good friends EeveeChu, Sporadic, theSardonyx and Tanit (I don't know if you had read this, Adex, but I assume you did ^^') for beta reading this. Of course, my deepest gratitude to fallan-angel as well. ^^

The next chapters are going to be a bit... well... feelsy since stuff are going to be way more serious there.

Anonymous reviews have been disabled. Login to review. 1. Stage 1: Shock and Denial 6416 0 0 2. Stage 2: Isolation 4543 0 0 3. Stage 3: Pain and Guilt 4296 0 0 4. Stage 4: Depressive Times, Part I 5553 0 0 5. Stage 5: Depressive Times, Part II 7713 0 0 6. Stage 6: Intrusive, Recurring Thoughts 4457 0 0 7. Stage 7: Shock and Anger 6116 0 0 8. Stage 8: The Upward Turn 5097 0 0 9. Stage 9: Reconstruction& Working Through 4825 0 0 10. Stage 10: Forgiveness 5862 0 0 11. Stage 11: Acceptance and Hope 8661 0 0 12. Stage 12: A New Path Awaits 9791 0 0 13. Stage 13: Helping Hand, Part I 4510 0 0 14. Stage 14: Helping Hand, Part II 4397 0 0 15. Stage 15: Helping Hand, Part III 10126 0 0 16. Stage 16: Embracing Life, Part I 6633 0 0 17. Stage 17: Embracing Life, Part II 11065 0 0