Lightning-Dono: I got Harvest Moon: More Friends of Mineral Town for Christmas! I'm especially happy, after having to play the boy's version on the computer rather illegally a few years back. This inspired me...to right another Harvest Moon fic based on its characters. But mainly Rick, Popuri, and Kai. (I married Rick, btw.)

Unlike my other fanfics, if you're familiar with them, I'm not going to spend quite as much time describing scenery as I will describing the characters themselves, okay? Just to keep it moving.

In Ruins
By: Lightning-Dono
Status: One-Shot

--

"I told you not to hang around him!"

Rick's commanding voice rung in her head, sound waves long gone still reverberating silently in her ears. Popuri was standing on the beach, on a seemingly beautiful afternoon in summer, but the sun and the splashing waves were deceiving. The sand grinding between her toes as she fidgeted in her sandals depicted a fun, family event at the beach. But that was further from the truth than the rumor of Mary beginning to court a stately young man from one of the main islands that had been spurred by the oddly talkative Manna.

Right now, the nine syllables her older brother had spoken so long before was the only truth she could accept. He was right. Why not? He was her older brother. While he never dictated entire aspects of her life, he had more experience in life. Been rejected and thrown away more times than she could even imagine by people that, if he had the chance, would've entrusted his life to. But his overprotective, brotherly instincts were retiring after years of warning her against the lonesome man. Now he had resigned to the chicken pen, refusing to even look at her face when she had flounced off towards the beach in her flowing crimson dress, glasses sliding precariously down his nose.

Popuri couldn't even recall why she had torn such an expensive dress from its metal hanger just to go to the beach. She had felt a wave of happiness overcome her as she slipped it on comfortably, feeling the cool silk press against her skin. It accentuated her curves, and that would definitely get Kai, she had thought. It had been three years now that she had known him, and with her defined appearance, he would definitely take her hand in marriage.

Salty ocean water lapped ceaselessly at her feet as the water attempted to resist the moon's pull for the tide. Her feet coated in sand, she took a step back from the tan boy before her, hitching up her dress from the ground until the hem was level with her knees. Kai shifted his bandanna slightly, eyes distantly fixed on sky blue bench behind her as though he were entranced by its wearing paint.

"What's wrong with you!" She suddenly burst, her voice breaking dramatically as her wavy pink hair flared out behind her almost theatrically. While the reply to his rejection had been meant to sound more piteous and whiny, she sounded as though she were accusing him of some fault he had for laying so much burden upon her. But she wasn't finished with him just yet, the nerve of that guy, turning on her almost immediately when she had revealed the Blue Feather concealed in the palm of her hand. She could feel her senses tingling as he removed the large, cerulean feather from her hand with great care, but what he did next would sting her memories of that day forever.

Kai had cast it into the ocean behind him, allowing the waves to fling it away from where he stood, his stance disoriented with his right hand gripping his left shoulder tightly, creasing the fabric out of nerves.

"Why give that to me?" He questioned, looking almost horrified, but bitter more than anything.

"Why else?" Popuri's strawberry eyes flashed with an inner anger at such a level that even Kai, someone who had been in her presence for so long, couldn't even comprehend the wrath could be produced. Tears stemmed down her face in streams that flowed, joining at her chin. "W-what else could it have meant?"

"It means love," he replied with a frustrating sense of finality. "But you didn't have to waste your money."

"What do you mean?"

Kai's eyes lost all emotion. The sun glinting off of his sweaty skin made him look so human, yet his empty eyes made him borderline demonic. He summoned her to sit beside him on the bench, sweeping his hand across the flaking seat to remove all of the blue chunks that would stick to Popuri's dress.

The young woman lowered herself onto the bench, a look of puzzlement plastered onto her pale visage, interspersed with a vague amount of anger.

"So..."

"You know I travel back to my hometown every now and then, I trust."

"Mm-hmm."

"This Spring I went back there, to visit. Not necessarily the family that I hate so much, but just some friends who always look forward to me being there, things like that. Well...I hired a waitress for my restaurant there that my friends look after for me when I'm gone."

Popuri's stomach did a brief turn, then her throat tightened almost painfully. She could almost predict what would happen.

"My friends were saying that they couldn't handle the amount of customers on their own, which was crap since all they wanted was new blood, but I went out and got a new waitress for their sake. We had a fine time together. Time really passed with her around."

Popuri's fingers curled into her dress, wrinkling the smooth material. She didn't care.

"Should I skip to the end now that you know the basics?" His eyes were still faraway, now slowly focusing on a seagull that was swooping centimeters above the ocean waves, ready to dive its talons in to capture the poor, floundering fish between them. That what he was ready to do to Popuri. He setting up a deliberate trap, braced himself to watch her squirm in her red dress that she had so selfishly picked out for herself simply to look strikingly pretty. The waitress that he had picked out especially for that position at his restaurant was never that selfish, styling her hair in the same slicked-back ponytail everyday, throwing on her usual school uniform before and after school. She didn't give a damn what she looked like, but he knew that Popuri flattered herself every time she dared to gaze into a mirror, fluffing her cotton-candy pink hair like it was made of gold. Kai was tired of it, sick of watching her at Saibara's gazing at his small box of merchandise as though it were really worth any sentimental value and listening to her whiny pleas of desperation. Popuri needed nothing to give more flair to her beauty, but the way she bathed religiously in her self-esteem everyday killed him inside. He had thought that being with her would make her feel like she was worth something beneath that haughty, cutesy appearance. But the more he had tried to reach out to her, the more she fell for superficiality.

The girl was shaking, her lip trembling to utter an answer, yet only managing to let out a small wail that ended in a second.

"What?"

Kai heaved a breath. There was no turning back after this, no more falsely fun afternoons with Popuri trying to wolf down all of the food he had to offer, and no more evenings sitting on this same blue bench with her, watching the sun spurt out a gradient of rich colors as it sank beneath the horizon.

"We got engaged."

Popuri gasped, although in her soul she had suspected this from the beginning he had uttered a single word about his new friend from his homeland. Despite the fact that she had been expecting it, she could feel salty tears pricking at the corners of her eyes, which she didn't bother fighting. Had she always been this vulnerable? Was it always going to be this way from now on with her boyfriends?

And although she had denied it from the beginning, had Rick been speaking the truth about Kai all along?

"Why are you still here?" She sobbed through tears of pure anger as she watched them dot her dress, leaving painfully dark stains to remind her of the tragedy she was living. "Are you going sit there and watch me in my misery?"

The man donning the purple bandanna, who had been avoiding his former girlfriend's eyes the entire time, turned to face her. "What else can I do? I already broke the news. Now it's your turn to accept it as it is; blatant fact."

"How did you think I would take this?" Popuri shrieked at him, jerking her head towards him violently. Her strawberry eyes once calm with contentedness before now flared up with forceful rage. "You asked me on a date here so you could tell me this on the last day you would be here? What the hell is wrong with you?" She let the obscenities spill so uncharacteristically, but Kai let her. He deserved it, yet it didn't inflict any pain upon him. In a day or so, he would be back home, dutifully serving his faithful customers and being by his fiancée's side.

Finally, he worked his knees and stood up.

"It's okay, Popuri," he said, extending a tanned arm in her direction to help her up. It was not received, but was instead slapped away with a strength that Popuri on her own would never have been able to summon. Kai turned almost instinctively to find Rick standing there beside him, glowering with anger.

"What did you do to my sister?" He growled, his overprotective nature kicking in. Kai stood his ground defiantly. "What did you do?"

Popuri didn't even want to scold him this time for butting him. Instead, she welcomed it. Her brother had been right, and now she was going to have to sit humbly and watch him pick up the pieces for her because she knew he desired to. Now was his moment to smack Kai around mentally for the jerk that he truly was beneath that seductive smile he wore, that abnormally cool demeanor he bore.

"None of your business."

"You don't tell me that when I come and see you standing there when she's crying, all right?"

Kai shrugged as though this weren't much of an important matter to him.

"Tomorrow I'll be gone and you won't see a trace of me anymore after this day."

Rick looked as though he could go into a flying rage at any moment, a flurry of hands, legs, ready to bowl Kai over. But the stubborn man cast Rick a rather disdainful look, succeeding in only angering him further.

"That had better be true." He wasn't here to rub it in his sister's face that what he said was purely truth. Instead, it kept his focal intent on bashing Kai into a mentally created brick wall. This immature piece of scum had just hurt Popuri, and Rick wasn't going to stand for that. Of course, he had placed rather obvious warnings before Popuri's face before, but the results were never spectacularly agreeable. But she was a beginner in the grand scheme of love, still pushing her way through the beginner ranks, passionate with tons to offer but never saw anything coming.

Kai had been just too perfect to be true, and Rick had seen right through him, piercing through the offender's deceitful soul.

"Why don't you leave right now before I really lose it?" Rick's thin, bloodless lips curved into a grim, menacing smile.

Without a second thought, Kai turned, but before he even bothered to move his feet to shuffle back to his little outhouse, he said, "This may be the last you see of me, but I'll forever live inside your poor sister, tearing her soul into ruins." With those threatening final words, he tread through the sand, leaving a trail of footprints in his wake.

Popuri remained frozen in her position, fighting the urge to thank Rick, yet because of her rebellious streak wished that she could've handled it on her own without bawling and having her brother come to the rescue. He wasn't her knight in shining armor, but he was the next best thing. Seeing her brother's work-worn hand made her look up to see him still standing and watching her, trying to search for words to describe how awful Kai was.

But before he could react, Popuri flung herself onto his waist and sobbed, Rick awkwardly placing his hands through her fluffy hair onto her shaking shoulders.

"It's t-true!" She cried, sobs wracking her body uncontrollably. "No matter what happens, I'll a-always remember what he d-did to me today!" For a moment, she began to breathe deeply and looked up into her brother's earnest, understanding eyes that were filled with sadness interspersed with controlled anger. "It's true...he's put my soul in ruins."