Lost Fragments @teamcap
Stage 14: Helping Hand, Part II

Trigger warning: heavy swearing.

Stage 14 – Helping Hand, Part II

...

...

"Thank you so much, Sapphire!" Blue beamed joyfully, placing one hand on her satchel and pulling it close to her.

Sapphire jerked her head to her right, her eyebrows creased A small pout appeared on her lips. "For what?" She asked, still wondering why Blue was thanking her. They just had lunch with Crystal, Yellow and Platinum. In spite of their busy schedules, they managed to meet up at Blue's favorite restaurant with all of the expenses paid by Platinum. Although Sapphire didn't want her younger friend to pay for it, Platinum insisted. It was her way of expressing her happiness that their meetup finally happened.

"You know... it's been months..." Blue said, giving her younger friend a small smile. She knew Sapphire had finally conquered her grief but it would be best and wise to not specify it. There were still some little, broken fragments left in her heart from that experience. She knew it. She could tell it. She had experienced it herself despite hers was a different case and situation compared to Sapphire's.

"Oh." Sapphire managed to say, understanding what Blue meant. She bit her lip, her left hand travelled to her right elbow, rubbing the fabric of her purple long sleeved shirt. It was true the girls were inviting her to have lunch with them since that incident, but she often declined and preferred to eat alone, if she ever got hungry. Her intense grief and depression were preventing her to socialize with all of her friends, thinking they would be better off without her.

Her case was nothing but a burden to them, after all, and she hated being a burden to anyone. She would rather help her friends than being a burden to them. That childhood incident she'd shared with Ruby proved that she was nothing but a burden if she ever stayed prissy and girly. Although she managed to accept herself thanks to Ruby, she still blamed herself for it.

She wasn't able to defend herself and Ruby from those bullies. She just ended up looking at the bullies with fear shrouding every fiber of her being as they continued to verbally harass her, saying such mean words like...

"Creep!"

"Weirdo!"

"Idiot!"

"Retard!"

"You worthless loser!"

Sapphire snapped out from her thoughts, jerking her head on both sides. She searched the sources of those voices. She didn't know whether or not it was all in her head. Those were some of the words the bullies said to her and to Ruby years ago. She tried forgetting every little detail about it, but it often recurred in her mind, playing every little scenario, every little detail, slowly and painfully whenever she felt useless. It was traumatic. She just couldn't understand, up until now, why those bullies decided to do that to them. They said they were playing in and around their territory. They were going to leave it once they told them that, but it ended up with them verbally harassing her and Ruby. The worst one was to see Ruby being punched in the gut repeatedly with one of the bullies scratching his head.

She didn't understand why such behaviour existed. She didn't know what else she could do back then.

All she did was to stand up, keeping her balance on the ground and watched those bullies did those stuff to them.

"Sapphire?" Blue called, placing her hand on Sapphire's shoulder. Anxiety and concern slowly shrouded her eyes.

Sapphire snapped out from her thoughts once again, now looking at her older friend.

"Are you alright?" Blue asked, concern and anxiety were also present in her tone.

Sapphire bit her lip, taking a deep breath. Maybe those words were all in her head. But at the same time, she felt like it didn't. She heard the words loudly and clearly. But where exactly did those voices come from? This part of the city had too many alleyways at every street with the buildings adjacent to one another, making some loud conversations echoed around it.

It could be.

It was possible.

"I feel like I heard something." Sapphire mumbled, her eyes were scanning every inch of the alleys beside them. She just wished she were just having those recurring thoughts lingering in her head. She didn't want anyone to experience what she and Ruby had been through. It was painful and traumatic.

Blue furrowed her eyebrows, giving her shoulder a soft squeeze. She knew about Sapphire's highly developed senses. Her enhanced hearing abilities was one of them. If Sapphire heard something important, resulting her tensed mood, then it must be important. "Where is it?"

"I don't know." Sapphire bit her lip and clenched her fists. "I don't know if it was all in my head or not, but I really hope it is."

"You fucking idiot! You fucking thot! This is all we got from you?! Where's the fucking bonus?!"

Sapphire swallowed hard, further clenching her fists to prevent her arms from shaking. She didn't know what exactly was going on but she felt like someone needed her help. She didn't care who they were. All she knew that her intuitions were telling her that something bad was happening, and she couldn't just stand here and hear it all end.

Someone had to help.

...

"In a nutshell," Blue closed her eyes and took a deep breath. She opened her left eye, observing Ruby's reaction.

He was sweating excessively. She knew this would happen, nonetheless. Every time Sapphire would get hurt, physically or emotionally, the pain often split off her and go to Ruby. From there, it doubles, it increased, rather, making Ruby feel her pain. Whenever Sapphire was in pain, Ruby also felt it.

But the pain was worse every time.

...

Sapphire turned her heel to her left, sprinting off, leaving Blue behind to catch up to her. She knew Blue understood, and she shouldn't waste her time thinking and finding more proofs if it was just her intrusive thoughts or actual words from an actual person. She opened her mouth, panting, letting the beads of her sweat fell from her forehead to her cheeks. Her heart raced along with her legs, hoping, praying that she would arrive on time and defend that person from those bullies.

She didn't care if they were adults, teenagers or just a bunch of children. All she wanted was to protect them from it.

No one deserved to suffer emotionally the same way she and Ruby did.

It was painful.

No medicine could cure it easily.

...

Ruby clenched his fists, gripping the fabric of his black pants. He bit his lip.

Bullies.

He remembered how those jerks bullied Sapphire.

They verbally harassed her, saying that her dress was ugly and so was her. They kept on saying she was worthless just because she couldn't climb a tree without his help. They kept on saying she couldn't survive in the real world all on her own. But the worst part, however, was how the so-called leader of those bullies gripped her left wrist, hurting her in the process, as he dragged Sapphire away from him, saying she would be a useful person when she hangs out with them.

He closed his eyes as he took a deep breath, hoping to calm his fast heartbeat.

Those happened in the past. It may had left an emotional scar in them, but they became a stronger person because of it. Sapphire... He thought, his grip on his pants lessen at the thought of her. He knew Sapphire was strong enough to defend herself. Those bullies made her a stronger person despite her emotional vulnerability. But he couldn't help but to stand up and get inside the room just to give her a hug, telling her everything would be alright now that she was in his arms. I'm here now. It's going to be alright...

...

Sapphire stopped at her tracks, panting heavily. Her eyes widened in shock at the sight.

There were three people surrounding one man.

She didn't care and even bother to look at the three people surrounding the man. All she noticed was the man's appearance.

The man had a black hair, tanned skin and in the average height. He seemed like in his late twenties. He wore a white t-shirt, a black coat and a pair of blue pants. The man was sweating and his left eye seemed sore. There was a bit of blood from his lips and that alone made Sapphire mad.

She knew no one was dumb enough to hurt themselves in public. If a person would commit self-harm, then they would do it when they were alone with no one with them. She knew that because she did that in her depressive days. She used a cutter to slice her right hand but she wasn't able to make the wound deeper because Blue and Yellow saw her and stopped her from doing it.

She told about her self-harm days to Ruby and to her surprise, he ended up pulling her close to his as he wrapped his arms around her for a hug. He ended up crying and kissing her forehead, telling her to never do that again. He may not have seen it, but he told her that it hurt him just by imagining it. She ended up burying her head in his chest as a tear fell from her eye.

She didn't know it could affect him too.

"Next time," The Caucasian man in the middle placed his hand on the tanned man's neck, gripping it, making Sapphire fume in the process. "We want more fucking cash. You got that? Or else…" He balled his fist and punched the wounded man's gut then kicked his leg.

It made the wounded man let out a cough and spit some blood on the process.

Sapphire held her breath, feeling a sharp pang grip her chest.

The memories of Ruby being punched by those bullies recurred in her head, playing it over and over again. She bit her lip and clenched her fists. This was too much. She couldn't take this anymore. She had to stop this once and for all.

"YOU'LL BE FUCKIN' DEAD TO—"

"THAT'S ENOUGH!" Sapphire managed to yell in spite of her cracked voice. She opened her mouth, panting heavily, glaring at the three people in front of her.

They all stopped what they were doing and looked at her.

"Get the fuck outta here, woman!" The short man on the left yelled, glaring back at her. "This is a personal business so mind your own!"

"I DON'T CARE!" Sapphire yelled again, her heart kept on racing, pounding, pumping in a fast pace as her glare at the three people intensified. She didn't give a damn if it was their personal businesses. She couldn't stand seeing someone be physically and verbally bullied. "JUST LOOK AT HIM! HE IS PHYSICALLY HURT AND I DON'T THINK IT IS A PERSONAL BUSINESS BUT RATHER A PERSONAL CONFLICT!"

Blue stopped on her tracks, panting. Her eyes widened in shock as anxiety crept into her eyes. Sapphire was losing her voice once again and this was bad. This would worry Ruby, no doubt.

"Just get out of here. You don't want to get beat up, eh?" The man in the middle said, removing his hand on the person's neck. His eyes darted around the ladies, eyeing them carefully like a wild animal. His lips curved into a smirk, to which Sapphire and Blue saw it as an arrogant one, and something else... "Unless ya wanna." He continued, snickering at them.

Oh Blue knew what that look meant very well. She just wanted to kick that man's guts for some reason.

"Just... leave please..."

Sapphire unclenched her fists, breaking her glare from the three people, and turned her attention at the wounded man. Her lips curved into a frown.

She could clearly tell he was physically and verbally abused. His voice sounded sore. The way he placed his left palm on the wall just to support himself from falling and the way his legs quiver were enough to make her worry about him. She didn't know what happened nor didn't she care. She had to take that wounded man away from them.

"This is... p-personal..." The wounded man managed to say, panting heavily. He coughed, spitting a spec of blood in the process.

It only increased Sapphire's anxiety for the man.

"Don't tell the police about this or else I will use this knife to slice the shit outta him." The woman on the right said, grabbing a knife and pointing it at the man's nose. The wounded man didn't move. Instead, he just looked at Sapphire and Blue, nodding, telling them to just do what they said.

"Oh," Blue said, folding her arms across her chest. Her eyebrows furrowed, her eyes darting at them for a glare. "I'm pretty sure we wouldn't need to."

"Luckily, I was on the neighborhood." Rakutsu said behind the four people, his arms folded across his chest. "It's a good thing the woman's yells at you three was loud enough for me to confirm that something bad is happening."

The man in the middle swallowed hard, his eyes widening in shock. "Shit." He mumbled, gritting his teeth. He made sure to take this guy to the farthest side of the alley just so no one could interrupt them. This was not his lucky day.

"Fuck." The small man on the left cursed, his mouth hung open. He jerked his head to his right and caught a glimpse of the superintendent glaring at them with his partner arriving beside him. 'Oh god.' He thought as a trail of sweat fell from his forehead with his heart rate increasing. 'We fucked up so bad.'

"Run," The woman stomped her feet on the concrete floor, pulling her allies away from the wounded man. "…you bozos!" She placed the cutter in her pocket and sprinted forward, running away from the superintendent and his partner.

Sapphire took a deep breath, sighing. She watched Rakutsu let out an exasperated sigh and gave them a nod before he and his partner follow the three people, hoping to catch and to arrest them. She immediately approached the wounded man afterwards, stopping a few feet away from him. "How can I help, sir?" she asked, her voice managed to return to normal.

The wounded man let out a cough, his legs continue to quiver, making him fall on the floor. Sapphire caught him and placed his arm over her shoulder. Taking a deep breath, she let the man's chest rest on her back, carrying him in the process.

"I called Rakutsu just in case. We're lucky he heard the commotions too." Blue said, grabbing a handkerchief in her bag and used it to wipe the blood off from the man's lips. "I don't know who those people were but they seemed desperate."

"I don't know which doctor I should take him to." Sapphire mumbled, her depressed gaze met the concrete floor. If only she had arrived here earlier, then she would have taught those people a lesson they would never forget.

Sapphire didn't want it to end up violently, but the way those people said those mean words to Blue and to the man were enough to make her blood boil. Not only they were rude and abusive, but they were also a bunch assholes. They didn't respect Blue, especially the man. No one had the right to disrespect any person, especially her friends.

Whoever those people were, she hoped they would receive their just reward. Their actions were quite unforgivable.

"I'll call Moon to tell both doctors about this. For now, let's go to the hospital." Blue said only to receive a nod from Sapphire.

"No."

Sapphire and Blue stopped on their tracks. Blue looked at the man as worry continued to shroud her eyes.

"I-I don't have enough money... I-I..."

"I will pay for it." Sapphire suggested and continued walking, still carrying him on her back. "Your physical and mental health are what mattered here."

"B-But..."

"And you're not paying me. I'm not loaning you anything. Consider it as my apology for not arriving on time." Sapphire bit her lip, taking a deep breath. She sprinted forward, running as fast as she could to reach the hospital. Blue ran along with her, following her, hoping to catch up with her despite their distances.

...

"We manage to take the man there." Blue continued, biting her lip. "Both doctors did what they can to help the man, but Sapphire couldn't help but to be so hard on herself. I know she only wanted to help and she did, but she said it wasn't enough. She kept on saying she should have arrived earlier."

"How long?" Ruby asked, standing up from his seat. His gaze was fixed on the bedroom's door. He wanted to get inside and hug her. But he feared she still needed some time alone.

"Five hours." Blue responded, giving a nod at Ruby, telling him it was enough time for Sapphire to be alone. "She needs you."

Ruby bit his lip, nodding. He took a deep breath, approaching the door. His right hand touched the solid core timber, roughly tracing his fingers around it. He sighed, balling his fists, and gently knocked on the door. "Sapphire…can I come in?"

All Ruby could hear was his fast paced heartbeat and his heavy breathings.

Every second felt like an eternity.

He didn't know something like that happened and he should have.

But he knew Sapphire didn't tell him because she didn't want him to worry about it. He knew she was strong enough to take care of herself, but… No. He vigorously shook his head, disregarding that thought. He wanted to be there for her, that was the truth.

And despite any circumstances, he would always be there for her until the very last moment.

A few minutes passed, Ruby placed his hand on the doorknob, wrapping his fingers around it. "Sapphire, I'm going in." He said, taking a deep breath, twisting the doorknob, swinging the door open.

His heart sank at the sight.

Sapphire was on the floor, her arms were hugging her legs, pulling it close to her chest. He may not have a sharp eyesight like hers, but he could clearly see her arms were trembling. He knew she hadn't cried yet and he could feel she could break down anytime. He swallowed hard, clenching his fist, closing the door to give them a bit of privacy. Although he knew Blue could hear it, it didn't matter.

Sapphire needed his help. He couldn't bear to see her like this. He wouldn't allow himself to repeat every one of the circumstances that happened twenty months ago. She had suffered enough. It was time for Sapphire's life to be filled with nothing but happiness and positivity.

And he would gladly help her earn it.

Ruby sat on the floor, his hands held hers and gave it a soft squeeze. He looked at her with concern, anxiety and passion building up in his eyes.

Sapphire returned the soft squeeze, letting her depressed gaze meet his anxious ones. She sighed, biting her lip. "I know Blue told you what happened."

Ruby bobbed his head, up and down, nodding at her words. He lifted her hands, pressing his soft lips against it. "Sapphire…" He started with such passion, concern and worry engulfing in his tone as his lips curved into a frown.

There was always a hue of pink forming on her cheeks every time he kissed her, but unfortunately, there wasn't one. The incident have affected her badly and he could tell it did.

He couldn't imagine it himself, really.

What happened to the man reminded Sapphire at how those bullies beat them up, verbally and physically, in their younger days. He hoped she wasn't traumatized from seeing it again. It was too painful. He knew it because he had been there too.

"Please, don't be so hard on yourself."

"I know that!" Sapphire blurted, biting her lip. She looked at him with her mouth hung open, gasping for air. Tears were slowly forming in her eyes as it all fell in an unbroken stream. "But I couldn't help it, okay?! I..."

She bit her lip, jerking her head to her right, avoiding Ruby's concerned gaze. She removed her hands on his, only for Ruby to give it another soft squeeze, refusing to let go of her hand, refusing to not feel this warmth alone. "I heard it the first time and I had doubts if it was real or not!" She sobbed and took another deep breath.

Ruby's left hand traveled around her waist, pulling her, closing the small gap between their bodies. He let her bury her head in his chest as he felt her warm tears soak his shirt. But he didn't care.

She had been suppressing her emotions for five hours and he knew how hard it was to contain it. It was true Blue was there for her but instead of crying and telling what her mind was trying to convey, she opted to hide in the room instead.

And that alone worried him.

It reminded him of those circumstances months ago and he wouldn't allow himself to repeat those again.

It was too much and it needed to stop.

It was affecting not only Sapphire's mental health, but also her physical health too.

"I was so stupid! If I made it there on time then mister Ed would have been..." Sapphire gritted her teeth, taking a deep breath, sobbing as a result. "...he wouldn't have been traumatized! He wouldn't have been hurt, physically and emotionally! I—"

"Sapphire,"

Sapphire's eyes widened in shock as she felt Ruby's soft lips were lightly pressed against hers. She felt something warm streaming down from his eyes and before she knew it, he too started crying. His other arm was now wrapped around her waist and pulled her closer despite there were no more gaps between them. She panted heavily. Her surprised gaze met his anxious ones.

"It was not your fault, and it will never be." Ruby started, letting his forehead rest on hers. He sighed, closing his eyes. "It will never be your fault. You did what you think was right and that was enough. There are..." He removed his forehead on hers, distancing himself a bit, reminding himself that their physical intimacy might worsen her condition. "...there are some things that are out of our control. I know those bullies traumatized us. It still does the same for me."

Sapphire's lips curved into a frown. Her hands reached for his cheeks, cupping it, and used her thumbs to wipe off the tears from his eyes. "You don't deserve it. I..." She took a deep breath, letting out a sob, and lightly pressed her soft lips against his.

"You don't deserve it either." Ruby responded, kissing the tip of her nose. "You tried your hardest to help him and I know he appreciated it. I... I've always admire your eagerness to help people even if you don't know them personally. It's..." he bit his lip, thinking about his next words.

He learned the hard way that true beauty lies in a heart that was capable of love. Sapphire had a lot of beautiful qualities in her. She was smart, kind, empathetic and considerate. Those were some of the qualities he loved about her, making her more beautiful, the most beautiful, really, in his perspective.

"I understand..." Sapphire said, gently pushing herself away from him, opening the closed gap between them. "...but I wished I could have helped. It was..." she bit her lip, cursing herself. She felt responsible for it. If only...

"If I were that person, I would be shocked yet happy." Ruby's left hand held her left cheek, cupping it, letting his thumb gently caress it with such affection as if she was the most fragile person. He knew she was also physically strong. She was probably the physically strongest woman he had ever met, but to him, she was still fragile and it was his duty to protect her at any cost. What he felt for her since their younger days were still the same. The major difference, however, was the fact that his feelings for her kept on getting stronger, growing, developing it further as the years passed.

"I'll be shocked because a person I never met and know wanted to help me yet I'll be happy because there were still some... if not... one good person left in this cruel world." He continued, his lips curving into small smile. "I don't know him personally, but I know you managed to change the life of that stranger just through that kindness..." and... I'm happy I am one of them... stranger or not...

Sapphire bit her lip, her gaze meeting the carpet. Was she really...? She didn't know. She was just doing what her family wanted her to do. She was just doing what she thought was right, just as Ruby stated. She took a deep breath, letting her fingers interlock with Ruby's.

The doctors said they would take care of Ed.

Rakutsu said he caught the people who bullied Ed. He was now safe from the physical and verbal harassment and she felt relieved at that.

It may take a while for Ed to recover, but he would get there. She would gladly help him.

After all, she didn't want anyone to experience the terrible stuff she had been through.

And what a better way to start than to help them.

"...I need to make a phone call." She mumbled, standing up. "I'll be right back. I..."

Her eyes widened in shock as her heartbeat increased its pace. She felt Ruby's arms wrap around her waist as he pulled himself close to her, letting his chest meet her back. She felt his head on her shoulder blade, hearing him mumble such words at how worried he was for her. He ended up removing his head on her shoulder blade as his lips landed on her right cheek, pressing it softly.

He removed his arms around her and took a few steps backwards. A small smile appeared on his lips once again. "I'll just be here. I won't leave you."

Sapphire could only nod at his words and grabbed the phone in her bag, dialing the doctor's number. She knew Ed was alright, but she had to make sure he was. The reason why he was bullied may be different from hers and Ruby, but she knew what he felt.

It was traumatizing, painful and depressing.

At the age of twenty six, she still didn't know why there were people like bullies existed. All they did was to make someone feel like a trash just to feed their huge ego. They made people like them feel depressed and insignificant just to make themselves look good and powerful in front of everyone. There was nothing delightful about it, really. If a person wanted to lift themselves up, they should learn on how to lift someone else and not through bringing them down by saying such harsh and mean words and physically hurting them.

They would only end up bringing themselves down, making them look worse than trash.

"Hello?"

Sapphire went to the kitchen and placed her phone close to her ears, answering the call. Thank goodness they responded sooner than expected.

"What?" Ruby asked, taking a seat on the couch, his eyes curiously eyeing Blue. She had a smile plastered across her lips and he couldn't tell whether it was her mischievous smile or a sincere one. He furrowed his eyebrows and swallowed hard. She must have heard their conversation.

Blue let out a soft chuckle, gently shaking her head. Her soft, brown locks swayed with it as she stood up from her seat. "You two have your own ways on how to make each other feel better." She said, winking at her younger friend. The smile on her lips widened.

"Ehhh?" Ruby swallowed hard, letting out a light cough. He understood what she meant, no doubt, but there was a different meaning behind it. He shook his head, disregarding the thought. Blue's smile was sincere and nothing else. He knew completely well that Blue was mature and old enough to know when to be mischievous. He sighed, taking a glance at Sapphire.

He couldn't deny it, really.

What Blue said was true.

He and Sapphire had their own ways when it comes to helping one another and make each other feel better. It was an honor to be that only person who had that ability when it comes to helping Sapphire. At the same time, he also felt blessed that Sapphire was the only person who had that ability as well. He wouldn't have it any other way.

"How is Ed?" Blue asked, making Ruby snap out from his thoughts.

They watched Sapphire approach them and took a seat on the couch, pressing her back on the mattress.

Sapphire let out a sigh, placing her phone on the table. She bit her lip. "He is physically alright, but emotionally..." she bit her lip, fixing her depressed gaze on the empty of cup of tea on the table.

She knew this would happen and she couldn't help but to blame herself through all of it. If only she had arrived sooner. If only she didn't doubt what she heard…then Ed wouldn't be that hurt, physically and emotionally.

"You did what you could, Sapphire." Blue reassured her younger friend, placing a palm on her shoulder, and gave it a soft squeeze. "There are just some events that we couldn't control. Life..."

Sapphire just nodded, lazily and slowly bobbing her head, and continued to bite her lip. It was true. Everything that happened in her life was unexpected. All of the stuff she planned like travelling in one country with her father and with her aunt would never happened. Everything flowed out unexpectedly and out from her fixed plans.

But why must bad stuff happen to people she cared about? Why must it affect them too?

"Life has a plan for Ed." Blue continued, folding her arms across her chest. She took a glance at Ruby and noticed the small gap between him and Sapphire. He was definitely controlling his actions. He wanted to hug Sapphire, but he couldn't because he respected her privacy and he didn't want her to be embarrassed. "This may be a turning point in his life, and... I know he will be okay. You helped him and every help, no matter how big or small they are, counts. They all count."

"He appreciated it, I assure you that." Ruby mumbled softly, his concerned gaze was fixed on Sapphire, observing, hoping, and praying for any tinge of hope and determination sparkle in her beautiful sapphire orbs. "These things take time to heal."

"Thank you." Sapphire mumbled softly, her lips curving into a small smile with her cute fangs poking out from her top lip. "…thank you." She took a deep breath, her gaze didn't leave the empty cup of tea. She needed to learn to not be so hard on herself. It was true Ruby and her friends taught her how, but her old habits just couldn't help but to recur into tough situations like this.

Nonetheless, she was happy and blessed to have such kind and understanding friends. Some people would just be irk in this type of behavior. Some may even tell her to stop using that behavior, this mental illness, rather, as an excuse.

Not all could people understand or even have the mind and heart to do so when it came to deal with mental illness like depression or anxiety.

Sapphire and her friends had been through a lot of rough patches in life. Those tragedies helped and made them understand each other's struggle. Life may seemed hard for Ed, or anyone else who were going through their personal, tough times, but they just need to continue, to wait and to see. Great things would happen for them in the future.

"I love to stay and help, but I need to go and visit Silver." Blue removed her palm on Sapphire's shoulder and grabbed her satchel on the couch. She slung it on her left shoulder and approached the door with her hand grabbing the doorknob. She sighed, taking another glance at the couple. "Besides, I know you two had a lot to talk about."

"Thank you, Blue." Sapphire said, giving her friend a small smile.

Blue returned the smile. "Take care, you two." She said before closing the door and left the apartment, leaving the two alone once again.

Ruby took a deep breath and opened his mouth, sighing loudly. He jerked his head to his right, biting his lip. He wanted to hug her, but he couldn't earlier since he didn't want to embarrass her.

"I'm..." Sapphire started, jerking her head to her left. She swallowed hard as heat crept on her cheeks. She expected he would close the already small gap between them, but how come she always failed to notice it? "...a-a-alright..."

Ruby gritted his teeth and closed his eyes. His left arm travelled around her waist and pulled her closer, letting her chest rest on his. He felt her steady heartbeat becoming synchronized with his as her tensed shoulders relaxed. He sighed, pressing his soft lips on her cheek. "Don't hesitate. I'm here."

"I believe I'm the one who should say that." Sapphire gently removed herself from their hug, only for Ruby's hand to reach hers, locking their fingers together in the process.

Ruby let out a soft chuckle, sighing. He just knew her too well. "I think you know that I'm financially stable now.

"I do, and I'm still glad to hear that." Sapphire responded, giving him a small smile.

"I'll be paying the stuff I—"

"Don't." Sapphire gently shook her head, her soft locks swayed with it, and gave his hand a soft squeeze. "There's no need."

"B-But..."

Sapphire shook her head again and bit her lip, with one fang poking out from it. "I know you worked hard... you even worked for more than eight hours in one month just to make sure your financial problems would lessen. You deserve it, Ruby."

Sapphire always knew whether or not something was troubling him. However, she never got to ask about it immediately. It was true Ruby was living with her for a month where it should be in two months.

She hardly got time for she often ended up being tired from her work and her part time job as a researcher-. She wished she wasn't always tired from her work. She could have helped him with his problems sooner.

"I can't believe I'm saying this but if only I didn't lose my job..." Ruby mumbled out of the blue, thinking every possible event that could happen if he didn't lose his job. He wouldn't be financially unstable, he didn't need to bother his parents for some money and he wouldn't be bothering Sapphire every time he came to her apartment.

Sapphire already had a strong intuition that something was troubling him, and confessing his financial problems last month just proved her strong intuition once again. He couldn't hide anything from her, really. She just knew him too well.

He lost his job last month. Ruby was lucky enough he was able to find a new one in two weeks. The former company he was working on was a literal figure of hell. Despite easily finding a job after being fired for a week, however. He encountered some financial issues. He became financially unstable for a month because his old company didn't give his allowance for the past month. He was forced to eat instant noodles and not pay his apartment rent, electrical and water bills because of that.

Sapphire got worried about him and offered him to stay and live in her apartment until he was financially stable. He was happy that she was there to help, but he couldn't help but to think he owed her for letting him live with her in two months under the same roof.

Of course, they had been neighbors for a long time and they knew each other for more than ten years. But living under the same roof with Sapphire felt different and refreshing at once. It did have its perks, though. He could always reassure and see it himself that she was alright instead of sending her a text message or calling her phone number every day just to make sure she was safe and alright. Nonetheless, he wouldn't get tired of checking up on her every day. It had been his habit and he wouldn't be alright unless she was.

"You would suffer more if you didn't." Sapphire took a deep breath, gritting her teeth. Her concerned sapphire orbs met his guilt-ridden ruby orbs. A weak smile slowly crept on her lips. "Ruby, the old company you were working on was full of toxic and close minded people. You said it yourself, and that wretched company doesn't deserve a creative and a talented person like yourself."

Ruby was speechless. He knew she respected and admired him for who he was, but he didn't know she also thought of him like that. Frankly, he thought of the same too. He bit his lip, gently shaking his head, his lips curved into a small smile. Telling Sapphire that she was a creative and a talented person were an understatement. Sapphire was a skilled person, no doubt, and her skills just kept on improving, giving such huge help to mankind, as the years passed. He was so proud of her.

"I'm glad…" Sapphire broke her gaze at him and bit her lip. She felt his hands gently squeeze her own. She felt every bit of his gratitude into it. "I'm glad we finally had time to talk about this. I've been wanting to say that to you."

Ruby chuckled softly, the smile on his lips didn't fade. He brought her hands up, pressing his soft lips on it. "Is it... Is it bad to say that I would rather live in this apartment with you?" he asked, regretting it.

What was he thinking, really?

Only people in a romantic relationship do that and they were certainly not in a romantic relationship. Well, at least not yet anyways.

He would love to, of course. It would mean the world to him, but he had to remember that Sapphire just conquered her grief weeks ago. He couldn't just ask her about it immediately. He had to remember that she still needed some time to heal, and he would be there for her in every step of the way. Besides, he was certain that asking her to be his girlfriend, entering in a romantic relationship with him, hence going outside the friendship boundaries and being an official couple as a result, wasn't a great choice after everything that had happened.

Sapphire still needed some time, and he would gladly wait for it. He didn't care for how long it would take. If it meant that they would end up together in the end, then his wait would be worth it.

"I-I…I wouldn't mind." Sapphire responded after a moment of silence. Her heart rate continued to increase and so did the heat from her cheeks. It did sound nice, honestly. She trusted Ruby enough to share the same house with him. "If it's alright with you a-and your parents."

Ruby felt a lump in his throat, swallowing it as hard as he could. He didn't expect that, but he was honored that she trusted him enough to live with her under the same roof. He was determined to not break her trust. "T-They're completely okay with it, don't worry." He responded, the smile on his lips curved widely. "Thank you."

Sapphire took a deep breath, her lips curved into a fanged smile. Her eyes darted around their clasped hands, only to meet Ruby's passionate eyes that were slowly burning for her. She bit her lip, reminiscing all the small, happy moments she had shared with him. A series of events flashed into her head. Thoughts kept on recurring. Memories were being recalled.

She remembered everything.

Their first meetings.

Their stargazing nights.

That pet show where Nana participated in.

Their first day at their university.

Their college graduations.

Their first kiss...

Their future would be tied together from now on, just like it always was since their first meeting.

Her lips curved into a smile at that. It was pleasing yet ironic at how life would tie a knot around their fingers, connecting and leading them to the same future that was prepared for them. Life sure worked in mysterious ways.

"If you want to lift yourself up, lift someone else." – Booker T. Washington

Your friendly neighborhood, Mister Perfect! Okay, I'll stop. ^^'

Next chapter will be out in May. This fic only had 3 chapters left, so...yeah... ^^'

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