Lost Fragments @teamcap
Stage 3: Pain and Guilt

It's July 2nd also known as Ruby's birthday. Happy birthday to my boy, Ruby! :')

And since I'm no artist, this is the only way I could contribute to my boy's birthday. ;-;

Oh and to the anon/guest reviewer, you are definitely right... well... sorta. You see building this story through the different stages of grief was a coincidence. There will be few chapters here that are not a part of the stages of grief since we all know life is a very unexpected ride, so... ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Nonetheless, thank you so much for the reviews, especially to my friends, Adex, Gresh and Tanit (hehe, your reviews while beta reading this is often the best ^w^) and of course, to everyone who read this. It really means a lot. :D

Stage 3 - Pain and Guilt

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...

"What is wrong with ya?! Ya know I'm always here to help!"

Ruby could only stare at her, anxiety and depression were consuming his red jewel-like eyes. He clenched his fists, doing his best to prevent his arms from shaking.

Why couldn't she just give up? If he were in her position, he would have done that already. He had never heard her she would ever stop or give up on him no matter how many times he pushed her away or shut her out.

He didn't understand why she was not giving up.

He didn't understand why she cared so much.

Why couldn't she consider that giving up on him was an option?

He just couldn't understand why.

"Just tell me what's wrong, Ruby, please. I'll help you in any way I can... I... I..."

Ruby snapped out from his thoughts. His eyes widened in shock at the sight as his spine started shuddering in fear. 'She's...'

No.

No, it couldn't be. It shouldn't be.

He was seeing things, right?

Right?

"S-Sapphire..."

He was avoiding her for a reason, that was the truth, and his reason was because he didn't want to see her cry again just by knowing his conditionthe reason of his depression.

Knowing Sapphire, she was quite empathetic to understand his situation despite the decisions that he make, whether it was the right or the wrong decision. She would even do her best to understand why he made that decision in the first place.

However, he didn't want to bother her. He didn't want her to be worried about him. It was his personal problem, after all.

He swallowed hard, gritting his teeth.

The wrong gamble at his decision, however, was the fact that he made their situation worst. Deciding to not tell her about his problem and his condition only made it worst. It hurt her, in fact, and he repented for that. He couldn't believe he just witnessed the worst case scenario again, and that is to see her cry. He couldn't help but to feel guilty every time she cries, actually. He couldn't help but to remember those certain incidents that made her cry in the first place. He couldn't bear to see her cry or get hurt again, physically or emotionally. She was that important to him. He would rather risk his life to protect her again than to see her get hurt. He blamed himself for making her cry again.

"I... I..." Sapphire felt a lump in her throat. She forced herself to speak, but not a single word came out. Instead, melancholic sobs started escaping from her mouth as a result of the torrent of tears streaming down from her eyes. She bit her lip, her hands started rubbing her puffy eyelids.

Ruby took a deep breath, gritting his teeth. The pain of seeing her state lingered through his chest. His right foot started moving forward on its own as his left foot followed the lead, approaching her. He didn't know why he was desperate to hug her, telling her it was going to be alright now that she was in his arms. "Sapphire, I... I... I—"

Ruby's eyes widened in shock at the sudden change of scenery, confusing him.

The open field in the park of their home province was gone and it was now replaced with a plastered white-painted concrete wall. He felt something soft and made from wool on his bottom. Curious, he stood up, looking at the object.

It turned out to be a pillow.

However, it was not just any pillow, but rather it was the dirty pillow he washed three days ago.

'Hold on.' Ruby thought for a second, gritting his teeth. He scanned his surroundings. The familiar aesthetics of the room made him conclude he was inside his apartment. Hold on. How did he manage to get in here?

What was he doing here? Where was Sapphire? Was she safe? Was she alright?

He hoped she was somewhere in his apartment. He hoped she was sleeping in his bedroom or making a cup of coffee in the kitchen.

"Sapphire," He mentioned her name with such concern building in his tone. Anxiety clouded his thoughts, making him overthink such negative stuff that could possibly happen to her. He shook his head to disregard those negative thoughts.

Sapphire was somewhere safe. She was not all alone, crying in her apartment because of her grief. She was in his apartment where she's safe and he would be there for her to help her conquer her grief.

Ruby felt his phone vibrate in his pocket. He picked it up, furrowing his eyebrows.

'It's...' "Sapphire..." He immediately answered the call, placing his phone close to his ear. "Sapphire, where are you? Are you—"

"I said I don't wanna see ya for five days straight!"

A shiver ran through Ruby's spine as fear shrouded his eyes.

What was going on? Where was Sapphire? What was she talking about? "Wait, Sapphire, I"

"Just leave me alone, please." Sapphire said, her voice cracking.

Now Ruby understood what was going on. This happened five days ago where he went to her apartment to visit her, just in case she needed some company, which she must have in her case. His visit turned out to be shorter than he expected, for she didn't want to see him because of that certain incident, confusing her in the process.

"Sapphire, listen, t"

"Ruby, leave me alone. I can't take much more this."

"But"

"Please, don't come here for five days or else... we'll never see each other again."

"Wait, just—"

"WAIT!"

Ruby snapped his eyes open, sweat continuously trailed down on his cheek. He sat up in his bed, scanning his surroundings, and gasped for air.

Thank heavens it was just a dream, a nightmare, precisely. But it all seemed real. He could feel his heartbeat continuously increased its pace as his right palm traveled on his chest, gripping the fabric of his shirt in order to calm himself. He closed his eyes, his mouth still breathing heavily.

How come his nightmare contained two of his greatest fears? Why was it starting to bother him now that he was going to be seeing her a few hours from now?

"Damn it."

Ruby went off the bed, his feet now meeting the cold, tiled floor. He slowly stood up, doing his best not to wobble in spite of his weak legs.

He had a bad feeling about this.

He still couldn't believe why he was having a nightmare now. And out of all the days too.

He wasn't able to have any of those terrible nightmares five days ago because of his anxious thoughts of being away from Sapphire. He was quite thankful his work distracted him from having anxiety, but how come out of all the days he had to have such terrible nightmares, why did it have to be a night before he sees her? Shouldn't it have hunted him a few days ago? It would make more sense if he had one last night. She did ban him to not see her for five days straight, after all.

Well, he did manage to overwork himself in those five days, which was probably why he didn't have those kind of nightmares until tonight. He stared at the door for a moment. It could be. It was possible. It might be the reason of his lack of nightmares.

He sighed, opening his apartment door and went outside. He approached the small bench in the front yard of the building and sat on it, hoping the quiet, suburban night would soothe his fretful state. He placed his palms on his face, rubbing it, still hoping that nightmare would leave his head.

"Can't sleep?"

Ruby removed his hands on his face, jerking his head to his left. His eyes widened in shock. "G-Gold?"

Gold's lips curved into a cheerful smile, nodding as a response. He let the collar of his billiard cue touch the soft yet moist grass of the earth's soil. "What's up?"

His question made him think. It was Gold, and his question was definitely his way of asking what was wrong with him. What should he answer though? He was definitely not alright, but he was also not the type of person to open up his feelings to anyone. He only said what he truly feels to his pet dog, Nana, and well... to Sapphire. Besides them, he wouldn't tell what he truly feels to anyone.

"Ruby, are you alright?"

"N-Nothing..." Ruby responded, avoiding Gold's second question. His gaze was fixed on the grassy ground. Nonetheless, his answer was enough for Gold to conclude that something was bothering him.

"It's... all... nothing..." He uttered softly in a depressed tone and sighed, listening to the natural noise of the night provides. He didn't know why his friend was still awake around this hour with his billiard cue in hand. Gold's working hours were definitely during the day as far as his mind could recall. If he just came from the casino, then his clothes should have been a bit formal or his casual attire instead of his gray pajamas. Whatever the reason though, he could use some company to distract him from that nightmare.

"I... uh..." Gold rubbed the back of his head, frowning at his friend's appearance. He sat beside Ruby, glancing to see his friend's possible reaction but no to avail. Ruby didn't move an inch. Guess there's a lot going on in his mind right now. He thought, shifting his gaze into the sky.

Dawn broke over the city, slowly enveloping the dark sky with light. The stars' respective glow slowly faded as soon as the early sunlight hits their position into the dark, painted sky.

"It must be Sapphire..." Gold said, looking at his friend. His eyes showed nothing but sympathy. Though he usually teased them for being such a 'weird pair', his teasing could wait, for both were crossing a rough road together. "...isn't it?"

Ruby could only nod at his friend's words. His lips curved into a small frown.

What else could he say, really?

He couldn't hide it anymore.

Out of all his and Sapphire's mutual friends, he was the only one who was more than twice as worried for her.

He couldn't help it. He had seen her emotional breakdown again, and it hurt to see her cry every time. Though they say it was quite healthy for depressed people to cry in order to release those negative emotions they'd been keeping in them, seeing her cry reminded him of those certain incidents. One of those gave him that huge scar on his right temple, making him more cautious every time someone or something messes with his hat. That scar on his head reminded him of that certain reckless act he did, making her cry as a result.

"I haven't seen her for two days." He muttered softly. Depression and anxiety were lingering in his tone.

"I guess... worrying about her is normal for you, huh?" Gold asked, shifting his gaze to his younger friend. "Especially..." He bit his lip. His next words made him hesitate.

Was it alright for him to mention that incident? He knew Ruby was not emotionally stable like Green or Silver, but would his words affect him just like how badly it affected Sapphire? Would it make his friend's situation worst? He let out a sigh. Well, it looked like he had to find out now. "I guess... that incident made you worry about her more... Am I right...?"

Ruby averted his gaze at the grass, jerking his head towards Gold. He furrowed his eyebrows as his heart started beating faster than before, increasing his anxious state.

There were two incidents that happened between Ruby and Sapphire last week and one of them being his inopportune confession. He just hoped in every fiber of his being that none knew about that incident, let alone spreading the news about his confession. He didn't want to make Sapphire feel uncomfortable, after all.

"I mean," Gold continued, lifting his left leg and resting his left foot over his right thigh. He placed his billiard cue on his leg. "She lost her family in one day, and... I know it hurts her remembering that incident, so... I guess... her condition worries you."

"...It does..." was all Ruby could respond. There was nothing else to elaborate, honestly.

Gold was right.

Everyone was right.

Sapphire's condition couldn't help but to make him feel depressed and anxious.

He couldn't control it, really. It was true he would never know her actual melancholy, but knowing her for more than a decade made her the most important person in his life besides his parents and his mentor. Sapphire was his best friend, after all, and without any warning, she became the first and he knew she would be the last woman he had ever loved romantically.

It hurt seeing her depressed state. He couldn't help but to worry about her. He couldn't help but to make sure that he must always be by her side. Being away from her for five days only increased his anxiety.

However, now that he would see her again, he was definitely determined to not leave any reckless words or make such reckless actions unlike last time. He swore he would be there for her in spite of the cause.

Ruby released a sigh of despair, now looking at the dawned sky. In a few hours, he could finally go to her place. From there, he would do what he can to help her. He believed she would slowly yet surely be free from her grief. He believed she would be able to go back to her old self, and he was determined to help her conquer her grief.

Life had a plan for Sapphire. She may be experiencing such tragedies in her life at the moment, but someday she would be happy again. She would be able to live happily where no massive emotional pain like her family's death could occur. She needed someone to be there for her, and he would gladly be that person whether he likes it or not.

Well...

He didn't chose to be that person, actually. He planned to be that person—the person who would be there for her despite any circumstances.

"I... I'm sorry." Gold finally said after a moment of silence. He had nothing else to say, really. Although he wished he could do something to help his younger friends, but so far he could only provide some moral support for now. He would think of a way to help his friends. They were important to him just like how Ruby and Sapphire were important to each other.

Ruby could only nod at his friend's words. He stood up, clenching his fists and went back to his apartment. "I'll see you around, Gold."

Gold nodded in response, determination struck in his eyes. He sighed as a smile formed its way onto his lips. While Ruby's reckless decisions were sometimes a result of fear, he knew his friend would go to great lengths for the people who matter to him. There was no doubt Sapphire was one of them. "Tell Sapphire to hold on tight and hang in there..." Gold placed his billiard cue on his shoulder, his right hand gripping its handle. "Life still has a plan for her... She can't give up now."

"I'll tell her that... Thank you." Ruby responded, determination slowly building up in his tone, then entered his apartment, leaving his friend sitting on the bench alone.

"She... needs to know we're always there for her..." Gold added, whispering his last words as the cool, morning breeze met his hair, blowing it off his face to reveal his forehead. He stood up. Another day... another opportunity. Hang in there, you two.

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...

...

Ruby stopped on his tracks. He sighed, easing his fast heartbeat, and jerked his head to his left. He dug his hand into his pocket, grabbing his phone, and checked the time.

It said six in the morning. He still got some time.

Maybe he should.

He bit his lip.

Well... It was the right thing. He hadn't paid his condolences, heck even a visit to them yet, so the least he could do was to visit them now that he had some time. Gently gripping his phone and returning it into his pocket, he turned to his left and entered the cemetery.

The heels of his rubber shoes continue to brush through the moist soil of the earth as Ruby slowly approached his destination. He swallowed hard, gritting his teeth and gripping the leather strap of his shoulder bag. He didn't know where exactly their graves were, but it must be where her mother's reside. He turned onto his left, sighing, preparing and bracing himself for what was about to happen.

His and Sapphire's family were somewhat close. They knew each other well, in fact. Apart from being each other's neighbors in their home province, their fathers were also good friends for a long time. Professor Birch, Sapphire's father, a scientist and a college professor, became Norman's research partner for a few years, which explained the close friendship between them.

He wasn't able to attend their funeral because the company he'd been working on sent him to attend their business seminar for two weeks. In that span of two weeks, he never missed calling Sapphire just to check her condition. Although he failed to know what was going on with her every time they talk to each other. He just kept on assuming she must be stressed from her work, which resulted her lack of enthusiasm into their daily conversation. He came home from the seminar last week, and he first went to her place just to check on her. However, in his surprise, a gloomy aura surrounded her, removing the glee, feistiness, and determination in her eyes.

It worried him.

He didn't know what exactly happened to her in those span of two weeks.

He felt stupid for assuming her work was making her feel down and stressed, but it turned out it was not until Blue told him everything.

He clenched his fists, his feet stopping a few meters away from the tombstones. He removed his hat, revealing a large, twin sized scars carved on his right temple. He usually wear his hat to hide that scar on his head and to make him forget that reckless act he did just so he could save her. He had known Sapphire for years. He had never seen her cry. He always saw her as the strong, independent and smart girl he respected and loved. Seeing her cry that day broke his heart terribly.

It was true she had some flaws like her insecurities and her self-doubt, but those didn't stop her from becoming an amazing person. However, breaking her heart from that incident and seeing her emotionally vulnerable side completely exposed, made him guilty. He only wanted to protect her, but it turned out she wanted to protect him as well and not see another person die in front of her.

Sapphire could not tolerate death, for she lost her mother at a young age. He knew it hurt her terribly to almost see him die while she just helplessly watched there in front of him, like how she watched her mother say her last words to her and breathe her last breath before letting death take over her.

Losing her family, her friends and every one of the people she loved was Sapphire's greatest fear. Seeing her mother die in front of her made an impact on her.

It scarred her.

It made her fear her family's and her friends' deaths.

It was the reason why she was often scared every time her family or her friends get sick despite how simple their disease was. After all, her mother's cancer started from a simple disease as well.

Ruby folded his hat neatly and placed it in his pocket. He turned his gaze on the tombstones in front of him. What laid in front of him was Sapphire's mother's tombstone, now accompanied by her father's and her aunt's. His right hand gripped his chest, wrinkling the fabric of his shirt as his spine shuddered in fear.

He couldn't imagine how much it hurt Sapphire just by seeing her family's tombstone, especially on her father's and her aunt's burial.

He moved his left foot forward, slowly approaching the tombstones, and stopped once he was a feet away from it. He slightly bowed his head at the tombstones, doing his best to control the tears from falling on his eyes.

He wished he were there in their burial. He wished he could have done something else besides paying his condolences. He wished he could turn back time and prevent them from meeting that accident. He knew how bad it felt when Sapphire was having a hard time controlling her tears on that day, and she didn't deserve to suffer this badly.

"I... I'm sorry for just visiting you for the first time since... that incident." Ruby started, still bowing at them. His deep tone now being consumed by depression and anxiety. "I know you've seen Sapphire's condition, and..." He felt a lump in his throat and sobbed, now grabbing a handkerchief in his pocket. "I know you can't stand seeing her depressed for almost three weeks... I..."

Ruby crouched down, his left knee meeting the moist grass of the soil. He placed his handkerchief on his face to catch the streaming tears from his eyes. He sobbed again and gasped for air. "I'll do... I'll do what I can t-to help her conquer her grief, because..." He sighed, his eyes now meeting Professor Birch's tombstone. "Sapphire means a lot to me. Y-Your suspicions were right, professor. I... I do like her. I... N-No, I..." He bit his lip, shaking his head.

Saying that he likes her was an understatement.

He loved her, no doubt.

And there was a massive difference between liking someone and loving someone romantically.

"I... I love her. I... I love Sapphire. She..." Her name brought a smile on Ruby's lips. Despite any trials and challenges life had thrown at him, he would always stand up and hold onto what was left in him because of Sapphire. If passing and conquering a certain challenge meant that he would be able to see her again in good condition, free harm, then he would gladly finish it just for her. She was there when he had his worst, and now that she was going through her worst, her own hardships, he would be there for her despite any circumstances.

He wouldn't leave or abandon her.

He would be by her side as she crosses that narrow, challenging road life was providing for her.

"She means a lot to me. I couldn't bear to see her get hurt... physically or emotionally... I... I will be there for her despite how worst it is. A-And in her current condition... someone has to be there for her... to listen to her... to bear the pain with her... I..." Another sob escaped from his lips. He placed his handkerchief on his face, wiping off the tears from his eyes. "I..." He sobbed, gritting his teeth.

Ruby unbuckled his bag, gently dropping it on the ground. He took out a tall yet beautifully sculpted candle from it, and placed it in the middle of the three tombstones. He grabbed a lighter in his bag and used it to `light the candle.

He later returned the lighter in his bag, closing it. He stood up and slung his bag over his shoulder, buckling it, then bowed at the tombstones in front of him. "I promise... I swear... I won't leave her... I won't make her feel alone for as long as I live..." His lips slowly curved into an affectionate smile as his tone changed from a depressed tone to a determined one. "You can count on me, because I... I plan to be with her... until the very last moment."

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...

Ruby stopped on his tracks, clenching his fists. He sighed, taking a few paces away from the door.

He finally arrived at her apartment after that fifty-five minute walk, and he had been having some mixed feelings since he left the cemetery.

It was not that he regretted his words, really. He was more than a hundred percent honest and certain at his words, in fact, but it just felt strange to confess his feelings for Sapphire to her dead family. There was no doubt he respected them, but he just wished he should have told them when they were still alive. He needed their consent, after all, and he wouldn't be able to know what they truly think of his feelings for Sapphire in their state.

He swallowed hard, gently knocking on the door three times, waiting for Sapphire to open it.

Well, he may not have her family's consent personally, but he already made an oath to be there for her.

And he was determined to keep it despite any circumstances or challenges life would throw at him.

The door slowly crept open, revealing a young woman, who was a few years older than him, with a long, brunette hair and a pair of concerned blue eyes. She smiled weakly, further opening the door to welcome him inside the apartment. "I'm glad you're here, Ruby." Blue said as she watched her friend remove his rubber shoes, placed it in the shoe rack, and get inside the apartment.

Ruby scanned the apartment, searching for his friend. His heart now thumped in its normal pace at the sight of Sapphire sitting on the couch and hugging her knees to her chest with a young woman having a long, blonde hair tied up into a ponytail sitting beside her. "Sapphire..."

The blonde woman, known as Yellow, stood up from her seat, approaching Ruby. She stopped and patted his left shoulder. "I made sure she slept peacefully last night. She's physically alright now."

"T-Thank you." Ruby responded, smiling weakly at their friend. He sighed in relief. Indeed, Sapphire didn't look tired, which was a good sign. He owed Blue and Yellow for accompanying Sapphire while he was away.

"I guess it's time to leave you two alone." Blue slung her satchel over her shoulder with Yellow standing beside her and placing her straw hat on her head. Blue looked at Ruby then nodded. Her eyes showed nothing but sympathy for her friend. "I know you two have a lot to talk about." She added, opening the door.

"Just call us if you need some company, Sapphire... Ruby..." Yellow added, nodding at Ruby. She too wore the same sympathetic look.

Not a moment later, the two went outside the apartment and closed the door, leaving Ruby and Sapphire alone.

A moment of silence surrounded the apartment from the time Blue and Yellow left. Faint sounds of the ticking clock and the roughly harmonic sounds of the fan's rotating blades could be heard from every inch of the small apartment.

Ruby's heartbeat increased its pace as he slowly approached Sapphire, gripping the only shoulder strap on his bag. He removed the bag on his shoulder and placed it on the floor. He sat beside her, his anxious gaze was fixed on her.

Sapphire didn't move an inch away from him, however. Instead, she removed her arms around her legs and let her feet touch the cold, tiled floor. She just sat on the couch, her left hand adjacent to Ruby's, gazing at the empty cup of coffee on the table. The emotions in her eyes didn't change since the last time he saw her. Depression and intense dullness were still conquering it.

He bit his lip, hesitating whether or not he should place his hand on hers just to comfort her, to make her feel she was not alone despite her grief. "Sapphire..." He gently whispered. His words echoed through her ears as concern and sympathy engulf his tone.

Oh how he missed seeing that enthusiasm, that glee and that intense feistiness in her eyes again.

Please be okay...

His hand reached for hers, placing it on top as he felt her hand shift upward. Now feeling her palm on his, she intertwined their fingers together, gently gripping it.

Ruby knew what her actions meant. Slowly, he closed the gap between their bodies. He removed his hand on hers and placed it on her waist, pulling her close to him. He let her head rest on his shoulder and used his right hand to hold her left hand.

He knew she was starting to feel a bit better just by hugging him despite the fact that they haven't said anything to each other. He felt her left fingers intertwined with his as she buried her face on his chest, letting out a light sob.

He gritted his teeth, closing his eyes, and continued to hug her protectively. "I'm here," He whispered like the breeze's gentle blow on the leaves. He heard another sob from her, feeling the warm tears streaming down on her eyes, soaking his shirt. "You're not alone..."

Sapphire gasped for air, still crying on his shirt. She placed her right arm around his neck, hugging him. Her left hand continued to grip his shirt.

It might have been three weeks since she lost her family, but grief just kept on consuming her. She couldn't help it, really. The news of her father's and her aunt's deaths were too much for her to handle. It felt like in just a single snap, death just took them with it, leaving her alone in this cold and unforgiving world.

That was how she saw the world nowadays, honestly. The light of the world somehow disappeared once she lost her family. It was nothing but darkness, shrouding the once pure atmosphere, taking and destroying every good thing this world had to offer.

Every good thing left in this world was nothing but a bunch of lost, broken fragments scattered all over the place, waiting for something or someone to mend it for them.

She might have sounded like a pessimist, but it was how she viewed the world now. It was the result of her depression at her family's sudden loss. It would be hard to view the once pure world she once knew. Although there were trials, challenges and bad things happening in someone's life, she couldn't see the light, not even a tinge of it, glowing through this dark, narrow road she was currently crossing.

"You'll never be alone... I swear, you won't..." Ruby continued to whisper, his considerate and calm tone soothed her fast heartbeat a bit.

It was true she felt depressed at her family's loss, but being this close to Ruby somehow distracted her from her grief. Instead of feeling grief alone, such complex emotions like contentment and bewilderment were forming in her chest whenever she's with him. "Thank you..." She whispered, still crying on his shirt. She let out a sigh, calming herself. She didn't know what she did to make him this desperate to help her conquer her grief. However, she did feel blessed to have such a great friend like him. "Thank you..."

...

...

...

...

Eight years ago...

"Ya idiot!"

Ruby could only stare at his friend as he blinked his eyes, registering what just happened. He scanned his surroundings and concluded he was inside a hospital room. He saw Nana wake up from her nap and approached them, wagging her tail, indicating that she was happy to see him wake up. His gaze met the tiled floor as he tried to recall everything that had happened hours ago, but only remembered a few with some vague memories after he passed out.

All he could recall were Sapphire and Nana calling for help.

He could clearly remember Sapphire's scared and surprised reactions from his reckless act. He could remember the feeling of being in her strong, delicate arms as she carried him to the hospital with along with Nana's surprised reaction and her soft cries as she licked his right palm, hoping to see him open his eyes and gain consciousness again.

And guilt took over his system the moment he had seen them cry.

He didn't know his reckless act could bring this much melancholy into their hearts. His mind and his heart back then was set onto one goal, and that was to make sure that Sapphire and Nana were safe. He knew it was not their fault when that fast motorcycle suddenly went in front of them, not noticing that there was a person and a dog in front of him.

Ruby did what he have to do.

Without any hesitation, he pushed Sapphire and Nana away before the motorcycle hits them. Relief started taking over his chest at the sight of Sapphire and Nana several feet away from the motorcycle. But what he didn't notice, however, was the fact that the motorcycle was going too fast, the driver immediately pulled the break, causing a massive impact between Ruby, the motorcycle and the driver.

The man fell from the motorcycle, inertia forcing him to be thrown forward, as the sharp spike aesthetics from his helmet bumped Ruby's right temple and causing the lad to fall onto the concrete road. Ruby's head bumped onto it, bleeding on both sides. One from his head's impact on the man's helmet and the other was from his head's impact on the concrete road.

It all happened so fast.

He could only feel pain and blood rushing and literally dripping from the wound on his head.

All he could see were Sapphire's cries and Nana's barks for help.

He was absolutely guilty, for this was the second time he had seen her cry.

Sapphire rarely cried, and it hurt to see her this emotionally vulnerable.

If only he had the strength to hug and to tell her he was now alright now that she's safe. If only he had seen the impact coming, then he would have avoided it. If only he could turn back time and prevent that accident from happening, then he would have done that days before it happens.

"Y-You..." Sapphire felt a lump in her throat, choking the words she was trying to convey. She then wrapped her arms around him for a hug. "You got me worried there. I was... I was so scared when ya..."

Ruby closed his eyes, guilt slowly creeping onto his chest, gripping his heart. He only did the right thing, that's the truth. He didn't know it could scare her. He didn't know it could make her cry so much for his sake.

"I... I'm sorry..." He whispered, wrapping his arm around her waist for a hug, and pulled her closer. His tone contained nothing but guilt and relief. She was alright and safe from harm, that's what mattered. It was his main reason, his goal, even, as to why he did that reckless act in the first place. However, he wouldn't be able to forgive himself for making her cry.

"I thought... I'd never see you again..." Sapphire continued despite her cracked voice with depression and anxiety consuming it. She gasped for several seconds then continued to hug him and cry as she now buries her head on his chest.

Nana sat beside Sapphire, frowning. She nuzzled her head against Sapphire's left leg, calming and hoping to make her feel better. The contact of Nana's soft, black fur made Sapphire release another sob. She smiled and removed her left arm around Ruby's to pat Nana's head.

"I'm glad... I'm happy that... That yer okay now." Sapphire continued, removing her arms around him, and stood up straight. She grabbed a handkerchief and wiped off the tears from her eyes and cheeks. "I... I already lost my mom when I was just a child, I..." She shifted her petrified yet relieved gaze onto his guilt-ridden eyes.

Ruby could perfectly see how relieved yet scared she was from his reckless act. He scared her beautiful, pure soul again and he hated himself for doing that.

"I… I can't afford to lose my best friend too." She confessed, biting her lip to prevent her tears from flowing down her eyes. It showed her cute fang from her top lip as she breathed slowly to ease her fast heartbeat. "I'll... I'll go tell them you're awake now."

"Sapphire," Ruby grabbed her left hand and linked their fingers together, stopping Sapphire. She jerked her head to her left and met his gaze. Despite her bloodshot eyes and puffy eyelids, he could see a tinge of happiness and relief in them, which made him smile weakly. If his body didn't ache that much, he would have stood up and given her another hug. "Please, just... stay beside me..." He mumbled, still locking his concerned yet guilt-ridden eyes on hers. His tone sounded desperate while his eyes, despite the emotions it contained, kept on begging her to stay.

He made her cry because of his reckless act.

Though it sounds heroic, it couldn't change the fact that he damaged her beautiful, pure soul and made her cry again.

And he was not going to forgive himself because of that.

`The lighting the candle part is... well... a part of our country's tradition whenever we visit someone's grave... paying our condolences and respect... (You could also count as a Coco and The Book Life references. ^^')

Hm... the next chapter will come out in August, probably the first week (since it's probably our college's university week, hehe ^^')

Oh, and... I made a writing side blog on tumblr (cap-cavern)... updates will be there... I guess.

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