Randomizer @teamcap
32: Limits of Patience (Collab fic)

Hey there! This one-shot is collab with my senpai, 1358456. The idea was hers and she wrote the first half of the fic while I wrote the 2nd half. You'll probably notice who wrote which part as you read. The title was also 135's idea. Anyway, I hope you all enjoy this fic!

135-senpai, thank you for collabing with me. It was fun and a huge honor. T^T

What if Sapphire ends up really hurting herself (but not dead... for now) because she took far many risks to prove herself. And Ruby is there to witness it, and also realizes that she did that because of what he did (or rather, what he didn't tell her)

Sapphire: "... I'm still not strong enough..." Ruby: "... I hurt her... again..."

32. Limits of Patience

...

...

Route 101, Hoenn, 12 pm...

Ruby fumbled with the key as he proceeded to unlock the door to the secret base. Using his non-dominant hand was annoying, but unavoidable as his dominant arm was currently unusable while it was healing.

He pushed the door open and stepped in, wondering why Sapphire hadn't rushed over to help him. Given her superior senses, she would've noticed his presence before he even reached the door. And fully knowing that he had broken his dominant arm, she would've most likely tried to assist in any way. Maybe she wasn't in the base?

The lights were off indoors, so he figured she was out somewhere, probably helping her father doing fieldwork.

He flipped the lights on and much to his surprise, he saw Sapphire sitting on the couch, facing the doorway, leaning forward while resting her chin on her hands.

"Whoa! Sapphire! You surprised me!" Ruby exclaimed. "... Why didn't you turn the lights on?"

Sapphire didn't respond. She simply blinked and slowly looked up at him. She didn't say anything and kept her mouth closed, but he could see that her jaws were clenched, and that her eyes were slightly narrowed. And immediately, Ruby knew her long enough to know that she was really upset. ... And he was dreadfully aware of the reason.

For a moment, he stood in the doorway, as if afraid to walk any closer. He had to think of something he would say. But Sapphire didn't give him the time. She rose to her feet and walked towards him, her footsteps awfully quiet as if she didn't have the strength to stomp over towards him.

She grabbed him by his good hand and dragged him deeper into the base, directly underneath a light bulb. She then grabbed his chin and angled his head upright, so that she could clearly see his face illuminated by the light.

"... How did you say you broke your arm again?" she asked at long last, her voice awfully quiet but forced.

Ruby knew he was busted. But he couldn't change his words now. "I tripped on a tree root two days ago and fell. I tried to save myself but the angle didn't work and I ended up hitting my arm on a boulder really hard."

Sapphire's eyes narrowed to slits and her grip on his chin became a lot tighter. "... You're lying to me," she seethed out. "... Two days ago? You were in Slateport all day that day, along with Emerald. You never explained why, and I didn't bother asking. But I felt it was weird. What would you two possibly do all day in Slateport City? And you came back with a broken arm while Emerald went to Johto. And yesterday, I found out that coach and the other Hoenn Gym Leaders were all in Slateport as well on that day. So I went to investigate. Tripped on a tree root and fell into a boulder? There isn't a single tree next to a boulder in all of Slateport or anywhere remotely close. But I did hear curious rumors about a Team Skull attack that took place two days ago."

Ruby quickly grabbed her hand with his good hand. "Sapphire, listen," he began, but she didn't let him.

Sapphire pulled her hand back. "And looking at your face this close now, I see that you also have a lot of scratches on your face. You concealed them well using makeup, but they're not completely hidden. ... Which means one thing. You and Emerald were there in Slateport City to deal with the Team Skull attack along with the Gym Leaders. ... And you didn't tell me. You lied to me. Again. For the third time, you hid something very important from me."

"Sapphire, listen," Ruby tried again. "I had a valid reason!" He took a moment to gather his thoughts and put on the most sincere expression he could manage. "I... panicked, okay? I was so anxious and afraid... Look, you know about Team Skull too, right? You know what they're like. They're especially dangerous to beautiful girls than anyone else. And given your relations with Prof. Birch, they would've targeted you above all else. I was so worried. I just couldn't risk it. I couldn't put you at risk by letting you fight them. I knew they had to be stopped before they could spread in Hoenn, and fortunately, the Gym Leaders thought so too. So we were able to stop them in Slateport and I was able to convince everyone to not tell you. I knew you would get mad, but... I just had to do it. I couldn't bear the thought of anything bad happening to you. ... I'm really sorry about this..."

Sapphire turned away from him. And for a moment, Ruby thought that his sincerity had gotten to her.

"... It's always the same," she began, her voice shaking. "I'm always the only one who doesn't know. Nobody ever tells me. They always leave me out. No matter how hard I try, I'm always left behind, and everyone keeps things secret from me... Always... always..."

Ruby reached over and grabbed her hand again. "Sapphire, I know I was wrong again, but... it's not that big of a deal, right? I mean, this incident wasn't that major..."

"You don't get it, do you?!" Sapphire screamed out as she shoved him backwards towards the couch, with enough force to almost topple the couch over. "Why do you think I even trained myself?! Why do you think I got stronger in the first place?! It was so that I could protect my friends and family! Those I love and care about! Like you! But what's the damn point if you keep leaving me behind like this? How can I protect people like you if you don't tell me anything and then go off to get injured like this?!"

Ruby glanced at his broken arm and a thought suddenly struck him. ... Now that Sapphire had found out about the Team Skull attack, and knew that he had broken his arm during the fight there, she probably believed that if she had just been told, she would've been able to prevent him from getting hurt. ... Just like how she believed that if she had not been such a weakling, she could've prevented him from being hurt by the Salamence during their childhood.

"I... never thought of it like that," Ruby said, his voice shaking as well as he now understood exactly what he had done. He put a hand on his head as a swarm of thoughts flooded his mind. 'I tainted her heart... again. I thought I learned from what happened last time... but I didn't. ... Is it too late to make amends?'

Sapphire's expression crumpled as her emotions got the better of her. "... Don't you trust me? At all?" she asked, her voice sounding as if she was on the verge of breaking down into tears. "Why must you continue to make me be a burden to you? Why won't you ever let me fight alongside you? Am I not strong enough? Am I not good enough to stand with you?" She shut her eyes and lowered her head as she began to tremble. "You always put yourself at risk, and you never tell me… Why do you always keep me in the dark? ... Friends are supposed to share both their joy and their burdens. ... Why won't you share your burdens with me? Am I that meaningless to you? ... Aren't we... friends?"

Ruby snapped out of his thoughts as her words pierced his heart. "O-Of course we are!" he said quickly. "Sapphire, please. You have no idea just how much you mean to me. ... I'm really, really sorry about lying to you again. ... I understand now. I promise I won't do it ever again."

"... Do you remember what I told you the last time you did this to me?" Sapphire asked. "... If you leave me behind again, I absolutely won't forgive you even if you say sorry. ... And now here we are. ... It's far too late for apologies, Ruby." She let out a long sigh and turned away. "Don't you dare show your face in front of me ever again. Just do everything by yourself. You don't even need me, right?"

"Sapphire!" Ruby shouted as he rushed towards her. But Sapphire held up a hand and glared at him coldly.

"I said don't," she said calmly yet fiercely. "I want to be alone." She left the base and shut the door behind her, leaving Ruby alone to his thoughts.

Ruby felt dread as he stared at the closed door. He had never seen her so resolute before. It felt as if she had just walked out of his life forever, for good reason, and it was his fault. And he could feel it inside him that this was going to be permanent. ... He had to talk to her. He had to apologize and actually convince her to accept his apology. He couldn't bear the thought of being separated from her, and because of something he did. But she wasn't going to listen to him at all any time soon. He had to come up with something he could do or say that absolutely proved his care for her, while at the same time, she had to calm down a bit so that she'd be willing to listen. But he felt that he didn't have the time to wait around to think. He had to run after her...

Ruby opened the door and ran outside. He looked all around him but couldn't see Sapphire anywhere. He figured that she had already gone home to Littleroot and chased after her. He had to reach her before she decided to head out somewhere with her Tropius. Then there was no way he'd be able to chase her. ... Fortunately, Sapphire didn't have her bag with her in the base, so she didn't have her Pokémon on hand. She probably left them home. ... So more the reason he had to get to her quickly.

...

Meanwhile, Sapphire remained sitting on the thickest branch of the tallest tree nearest to the secret base, staring off into the distance while lost in thought.

She didn't know what to think. She just felt so betrayed... again. ... At least she didn't lose her voice this time. She coughed and let out an audible sigh just to check.

She couldn't believe that Ruby had done this to her yet again. Even though as he said, this particular incident wasn't nearly as threatening and big as the last one he hid from her, the fact that he hid it from her again was maddening. She tried so hard to get stronger so that she could fight alongside Ruby in these kinds of incidents, not so that she can be kept in the dark and find out about the whole thing after it was over. She wanted to protect her friends, damn it. Not only be protected by them.

Sapphire sighed again and jumped off of the tree, landing on her feet a couple of seconds later. She needed time alone to sort out her thoughts. Maybe in a couple of hours, she'd head to Fortree and hear from Winona about the scale of this Team Skull attack and see if there was anything she could do to help. ... Maybe Winona could help cheer her up too. She never felt this worthless before…

Sapphire began walking towards Oldale Town. She didn't want to go home to Littleroot yet. Maybe she'd head out to Route 103 and just sit by the water there for a while, and try to cheer herself up a bit.

For a while, she simply walked while trying to lighten herself up but to no avail. ... She was never good at cheering herself up. She needed someone else to comfort her.

Sapphire snapped out of her thoughts when she heard a high pitched scream coming from nearby. She blinked a few times and glanced around, and noticed that she was on the outskirts of Oldale Town. And from the nearest bush, a little girl came running out. The little girl looked about six years old, and was clearly terrified of something.

The bush rustled and a Mightyena burst out snarling. Three more burst out afterwards, and the pack resumed chasing its prey.

Sapphire simply looked at the pack of Mightyena, having been reminded of the day when she first met Ruby after the Salamence incident. She had saved him from a pack of Mightyena, though now that she thought about it, he was definitely more than capable of saving himself and then some. And yet, she had tried so hard to save him…

She snapped out of her thoughts again when the little girl screamed as she tripped over a tree root. The pack was going to pounce on her in a second. Sapphire quickly reached for a Pokéball but realized with a jolt that she did not have her bag with her at the moment, as she had left it at home. She didn't have any of her Pokémon on hand. Sapphire cursed and quickly picked up a rock next to her foot, and pitched it at the leading Mightyena. The leading Mightyena fell from the hit and the rest of the pack stopped in their tracks. Sapphire took the time to quickly rush towards the fallen girl.

The other members of the pack snarled and charged at Sapphire just as she picked up the fallen girl. Sapphire embraced the crying girl to protect her and leapt forward, trying to get out of the striking range of the closest Mightyena. But apparently, she wasn't fast enough, as she felt a sharp pain across her back, as the Mightyena's claws tore at her flesh right between her shoulder blades.

Sapphire clenched her teeth to withstand the pain and started to run. She glanced down at the little girl in her arms and saw that she was sobbing in terror while keeping her eyes shut.

"Hold on tight," Sapphire said, wincing as each step caused a lot of pain thanks to the deep wound on her back. "You'll be all right!"

She repositioned her arms so that she was carrying the little girl with her right arm, and jumped up towards a tree to grab a thick branch with her left hand. She couldn't fight off 4 Mightyena with her fists while protecting the little girl at the same time, so she had to climb the trees and reach a height where the Mightyena couldn't reach.

But unfortunately, thanks to the wound on her back, she couldn't exert enough force to hold onto the branch, let alone climb it along with the extra weight in the form of the little girl. Sapphire grunted as the tree branch slipped out of her grip just as the pack of Mightyena pounced on her.

One Mightyena bit into her right knee, crunching hard. Sapphire yelped as she immediately lost all senses to her right foot, but reacted quickly and slammed a fist into its head as hard as she could manage.

That Mightyena dropped unconscious but the other three were still attacking viciously. Sapphire tried to run away but her right leg wouldn't move at all, and she couldn't put any weight on it whatsoever. She immediately collapsed onto her good knee and the three remaining Mightyena resumed their attack.

Sapphire kept the little girl in her embrace and covered her with her own body, still protecting her. She rammed her left elbow into the nearest Mightyena's face just as one of the others stabbed its claws deep into her right side in between her ribs.

Sapphire immediately felt her strength fading and her grip on the little girl weakened as well. She couldn't muster any strength in her right arm now, and couldn't even breathe properly anymore. There was no way that she would be able to protect the little girl now. There was only one thing she could do to save her. She quickly threw herself towards the two remaining Mightyena while shoving the little girl away from her.

"Run!" she yelled out as a Mightyena bit into her left forearm. She quickly kicked the other Mightyena with her good foot, getting both of the Pokémon to attack her instead of the little girl. The little girl hesitated but eventually ran towards Oldale Town so that she could get help, allowing Sapphire to direct all of her focus into repelling the two remaining Mightyena.

Sapphire managed to shake off the one biting her left forearm and struck the other one with her right arm as hard as she could manage. Her weakened attacks weren't enough to knock out the two Pokémon in one hit each, however. One Mightyena managed to stab its claws into her stomach just as she rammed her good knee into its chin, knocking it out.

The last remaining Mightyena pounced on her and swiped its claws at her face, leaving a long gash starting from above her left eye, reaching all the way down to the right end of her jaw. It then stabbed its claws into her left shoulder as it tried to bite her neck, but she managed to hold it back with her left arm and repeatedly struck its stomach with her right fist.

Eventually, the Mightyena whimpered and scurried off, as it was taking too much damage while not accomplishing anything. This particular prey wasn't worth it.

Sapphire watched the Mightyena scurry away and let out a pained sigh of relief. ... She was in a really bad shape, though. She couldn't move her right leg, and couldn't feel her left hand. She had a gaping wound in her right side, left shoulder, and her stomach, a long gash on her face and back, and had her left forearm and right knee crunched by the Mightyena, along with countless minor cuts and scratches all over her body.

She slowly closed her eyes, as she had difficulty in keeping them open. ... But it was over. All she had to do now was wait for the people of Oldale Town to rush over and help her. She grunted as she tried to regulate her breathing. It was very difficult and painful to take normal breaths, so she had to take light shallow ones instead.

There was a set of footsteps coming close from the south, which was the opposite direction as that of Oldale Town. And the set was not belonging to a person, but... another Mightyena? Sapphire gasped and forced her eyes to open. She slowly turned to her side to face the new Mightyena and tried to force her arms to move so that she could defend herself. The new Mightyena ran straight towards her, and didn't slow down until it was right in front of her.

It wasn't hostile. Sapphire blinked and suddenly realized that she recognized this one.

"... Nana...?"

Sapphire looked past the Mightyena and squinted through her blurring vision. She could see Ruby sprinting towards her, with his Gardevoir and her Gallade running alongside him.

'... He must've used Ruru to sense my location,' Sapphire thought as her vision blurred even more thanks to her tears to the point where she couldn't see anything anymore. '... Damn it... damn it. Ruby... I'm still not strong enough... I'm still a burden to you... ... Sorry...'

...

"Sapphire!" Ruby called; panic was present in his tone. His heartbeat became faster as sweat dripped from his forehead. His eyes wandered around her, finding any part of her body that was free from blood.

But he saw none.

He gritted his teeth and clenched his fist. Why must she always end up getting hurt? He tried everything in his power to protect her, yet it never seemed to happen. She ended up getting hurt again and it was all his fault. 'Damn it. Damn it. Damn it.' He mentally cursed. His eyebrows wrinkled, his eyes were narrowed and started glaring at the two Mightyena in front of them. "Ruru, use Moonblast! Kiruru, use Close Combat!"

The Gardevoir and the Gallade didn't hesitate and attacked the two Mightyena, knocking them away from Sapphire.

Ruby's mouth hung open as he gasped for breath. He stood in front of Sapphire as his legs started to become weaker. Its texture almost felt like a jelly. He continued to gasp for breath almost every second. He felt tears were slowly welling up in his eyes. Looking at Sapphire's bleeding body felt like a nightmare. He tried so hard to prevent it, but sweet irony had to make it happen. "I'm sorry... I'm so sorry..." He gnashed his teeth and used his non-broken arm to wipe off the tears in his eyes.

As much as he wanted to cry and mope, he needed to take her to the hospital.

"Kiruru, can you carry Sapphire for me? I can't... I can't carry her if my arms are like this."

Kiruru, the Gallade, just nodded and used its arms to lift Sapphire from the ground. Blood dripped from her body, sending shivers on Ruby's spine.

"W-We have to take her to the nearest hospital." Ruby stuttered; his breath was caught in his throat. He forced himself to speak. "R-Ruru, please, teleport us to the nearest hospital. We don't have much time."

...

...

...

...

Ruby took a deep breath as he paced around the hospital lobby. His eyes were narrowed on the ground. His eyebrows were furrowed. His breathing pattern was shaky as his heartbeat raced in his chest. He didn't want to think negatively. He knew the doctor would do his best to make Sapphire feel better.

But why was he anxious?

Why did he feel nauseous and weak?

Sapphire would be alright. She had to be. He didn't know if he could live the rest of his life if she didn't make it. Ugh, He shook his head and slammed it on the wall. People around the lobby looked at him, worried if he had hurt himself, but he didn't care. He only cared about Sapphire and nothing else.

He sighed as a tear fell from his left eye. What was taking the doctor so long? He'd been pacing around the lobby for a solid four hours now. He opened his mouth to gasp for breath and jerked his head to his right. His eyebrows creased. He remembered that girl. What was she doing here?

"Mister," The girl stood in front of him. Her arms were placed on her chest. Just by looking into her eyes, he could tell that she was worried. "Is miss lady hero okay?"

Ruby felt his heart sank. He wished he knew. He sighed and crouched down, meeting the girl's eye level. He placed his free arm on her shoulder. "Sapphire is strong. She will be alright." And he wished she was. He wished he was as confident as his words.

The little girl just bit her lip and bobbed her head. She reached her arms for him and opened her hands. It revealed a lum berry. "My mommy says that lum berries heal all Pokemon status conditions. I hope it will heal miss lady hero's."

Ruby smiled weakly and grabbed the berry. That was so nice of her. "She'll appreciate it. Thank you."

The little girl just nodded. "I have to go home. My mommy is probably worried about me. Please give it to her."

"Of course," Ruby nodded and watched the little girl ran away from him. He stood up and looked at the lum berry in his hand. He hoped it could also heal their emotional state too.

"Young man, are you with the injured girl?"

Ruby snapped out from his trance and turned to the right. His eyes met the doctor's. "How is she?" He asked; his tone was anxious and demanding. He was glad that his wait was over.

"She needed rest. She may stay here for a month or two. Did you contact her parents?"

Ruby bit his lip and shook his head. "I tried to call Professor Birch earlier but his line was busy. He must be doing some research."

"I see."

"Can I see her? Is she sleeping?"

The doctor's eyes widened as he took a step back. He gulped, taken aback by his questions. He had seen worried visitors but he never knew this boy could be this worried. The boy sounded like he was the lover in one of those romantic movies. "She's inside and no, she's awake. She—"

Ruby didn't waste his time and headed in the room, leaving a stunned doctor behind.

The doctor could only scratch his head and sigh. Young love.

"Sapphire?" Ruby closed the door and approached her. He grabbed a chair and sat on her left. His breathing became uneven again. He gulped as his eyes darted around her. Bandages were covering almost every inch of her skin except her face. "I hope you're feeling better." He muttered, his non-broken arm reached for her hand. Maybe if he held her hand, she would feel better.

Sapphire didn't respond. She only lifted her right hand despite the pain and looked at it. If she had brought at least one Pokemon with her, then this wouldn't have happened. She could have saved the girl and herself. She was still weak and the bandages around her body were the proofs. "H-How's the little girl?" She asked, her voice was hoarse and dry. She gulped. Why did Ruby have to come here?

Ruby swallowed hard and grabbed a water bottle in his bag. "Drink first," He tried to assist her but she managed to slap his hand with enough force. He was forced to watch her drink the water. He could tell it from her eyes that she was still in pain, and that was enough to shatter his heart. Was this what she felt like when he tried to hide things from her? "You're in pain. Let me hold the water bottle for you..."

Sapphire removed it from her mouth and bit her lip. She slammed it on the bed as a small amount of freshwater splashed from it. She turned her head and glared at him. "I can take care of myself."

"Not while you're in pain." He breathed and gasped. He removed the water bottle from her hand and placed it on the bedside table close to her hospital bed. "Let me take care of you, please."

"I'm not weak, Ruby!" She snapped and gasped. Tears welled up in her eyes and fell in an unbroken stream. She sobbed. "If you're thinkin' that I was weak after that battle then I'm sorry! I was stupid for not bringing at least one Pokemon with me!"

Ruby's mouth slowly hung open as he continued to gasp for air. He would never think of her as someone weak. If he had one reason to protect and hide things from her then that's because he...he loved her. He loved her to the point where he would do anything risky just to keep her from harm. She meant so much to him that all he wanted to do was to keep her safe. He couldn't afford to see her get hurt by any means—physically, mentally or emotionally.

"But I hafta to protect that little girl from those wild Mightyena. I couldn't just stand there and run away just to save myself. That little girl needs help! But knowing how I lost the battle, knowing that I ended up in the hospital just proves how weak and stupid I am! You must think I'm a burden now, and if so, I'm sorry! I'm not strong enough. I will never be strong enough. I—"

"Don't say that!" Ruby said with a raised voice. Tears started falling freely from his eyes. He didn't hesitate to hold her left hand as gently as he could. "Sapphire, listen to me."

Sapphire refused to look at him. Her face darkened as tears continued to fall from her eyes. What good thing would he even say? He saw her lose the battle, right? He saw how weak she was when those remaining two Mightyena kept on attacking her. "Ya don't have to force yourself and tell me stuff."

"Rest assured that I'm not forcing myself." He gently squeezed their linked hands and took a deep breath. "Sapphire, before the doctor came out of this room, the little girl you saved was with me. She said to give you this lum berry so that you'll feel better. I can see it in her eyes that she was thankful that you saved her. I don't care if you lose the battle. You saved a life. You're that little girl's hero. So please... please..." He opened his mouth to gasp for air as he dropped his head. He looked at their linked hands.

Sapphire slowly turned her head to face him. Was she really that girl's hero? But she ended up hurting herself... A hero must save people and themselves from the battle. She may have saved the girl's life but she ended up injured and locked up in this hospital. She was no hero. She just happened to save that little girl's life.

"Please, don't ever think you're weak. A lot of people wouldn't even try to risk their lives just to save one person so please... You're never a burden to me or to anyone. I only did those stupid things to protect you. I couldn't risk seeing you get hurt. I know if I told you the truth about Team Skull then this wouldn't happen. Don't blame yourself on this situation because everything is my fault. I'm sorry. I know that you may never forgive me but here I am, right beside you, just to show you how much I regret keeping the truth from you. I'm the burden. I'm the stupid one. I wanted to protect you but you ended up getting hurt because of what I did. And…" He sobbed and lifted his head. His teary eyes met hers. Remorse and sympathy were igniting in it. "I'm so sorry. I know you'll never forgive me but I'm sorry. I'm sorry for everything."

Looking into her eyes just made him want to kiss her, but he knew that was a bad idea; it wouldn't solve everything.

Silence lingered around them. All they could hear was their breathings and their heartbeats. The clock's hands continued to move as footsteps were heard from the outside.

Sapphire looked at their linked hands and wondered why she didn't remove her hand from him. She should have. She sighed. She was mad at him, but she knew he meant his apology. She could tell it from his eyes and the tone of his voice. He regretted it and she was glad that he did. However, she was conflicted. Her mind was telling her that she had to set her limits while her heart was telling her to accept his apology. He had hit his limits, no doubt, but why did she have this desire to forgive him?

"I know I've reached my limits, but I promise to never keep anything from you ever again. And if I break this promise, you can punch me, slap me or even use your Pokemon to attack me." He breathed deeply and lifted their linked hands. He planted a soft kiss on it. "I'll understand. It's what I deserved."

"Ruby," Sapphire called, his eyes were burning for forgiveness. She sighed, "You're...you're not stupid and... ya know that."

He bit his lip. Was he? He felt he was after everything he did. He sighed and dropped his head. "I'm sorry..."

"I know," She bit her lip. "And I understand, but..."

Ruby gulped. He braced himself for the worst.

"I'm conflicted. I want to forgive ya but at the same time, I have to set my limits. You've gone too far, Ruby."

Ruby bit his lip and nodded. "I know I have, and I'm sorry."

"I know. I know." She said, squeezing his hand as silence ended their conversation. She sighed and laid down on the bed. She stared at the ceiling, thinking. The rest of her days were going to be boring now that she'd thought about it. She just hoped Ruby or her father would visit her every day just to keep herself from getting bored.

"Can I hug you?" Ruby asked out of nowhere, surprising Sapphire.

She sat up on the bed as her eyes widened in shock. Where the hell did that come from? It was not that she hated hugging him but his words were too sudden. "W-Why?"

He just shrugged and smiled. "I just feel like hugging you, and…" He scratched the back of his head and gulped. A blush sneaked its way on his cheeks. He knew he was being sudden, but what could he do? He couldn't wait any longer. He had to make his move now before it was too late. "A-And...go on a date with me?"

Sapphire could feel her cheeks heat up. Was he trying to force her to forgive him? She mentally shook her head. No, she knew he wouldn't do that. But going on a date with him? In this condition? What was going on with him? Did he hit his head or something? "I-I..."

"I-I know this is sudden b-but I wanna make it up to you." Ruby lifted her hand and kissed it, sending shivers on her spine. Why did she feel happy? It was only a kiss on the hand. It was nothing special. "I can't hide these feelings any longer. I don't wanna lose you, Sapphire."

Sapphire coughed and used her free hand to tuck a loose hair behind her air. She could tell he was trying to confess but knowing Ruby, feelings were a hard topic for him. This was the closest confession she could get from him besides that time where he asked to be a lorekeeper with him. "I-I can b-but not in this c-condition. N-Not in our physical conditions."

Ruby released a sigh and chuckled. "I can wait." His eyes softened. "Thank you."

Sapphire rose an eyebrow. "For what?"

"For agreeing to go on a date with me." Ruby smiled and kissed her cheek. He realized what he just did and backed off. His cheeks flushed as he coughed.

Sapphire lowered her head, using her bangs to cover her blushing face and gulped. "S-Sure,"

Ruby breathed and exhaled, easing his fast heartbeat. Now what should he do? If he hugged her, things may be more awkward. He mentally groaned. The kiss was great but it was definitely out of place. He decided to call Professor Birch instead. He stood up and grabbed his Pokegear. "I'm gonna... I'm gonna call your dad. I hope the signal isn't busy this time."

Sapphire slowly bobbed her head. She looked at the water bottle and the lum berry placed on the bedside table. Her lips curved into a small smile. The little girl didn't need to give her a berry, but she appreciated it. If she really was that girl's hero, then she was honored.

"Professor Birch is on his way." Ruby dropped his Pokegear in his pocket and approached Sapphire. "Do you want me to buy some food outside?"

Now that he mentioned it, she was getting a bit hungry. Saving that little girl drained her energy and she needed food to refuel and recover. Taking a deep breath, she smiled and nodded. "Yeah,"

Ruby returned the smile and placed his hand on her shoulder. He bent his body and kissed her left temple. "I'll be right back." He left before he could see Sapphire's reaction. He wanted to kiss her again, and it was a good thing that he had an excuse to leave her room. He didn't want to see her feel awkward after that kiss. He stopped, closing the door.

Did she feel awkward? He really hoped she wasn't. He shook his head and proceeded to head outside. He needed to control himself sometimes.

Sapphire held her breath and focused her gaze on the window. She pouted. Why did he have to kiss her again? Did he do this on purpose this time? She sighed and laid down. She may never know unless he brought back that topic. But she had to admit: it did feel nice. "Damn it, Ruby. Why are ya makin' me feel like this?"

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