Chapter 1: There's No Use In Crying
"… What?" she whispered, trembling but trying to smile through it. It was a joke. She should be laughing, because it was a joke.
It couldn't be real.
"It'll be okay kiddo. We'll take care of you."
She stared dully at the police officer in front of her, who was trying in vain to get her to take a cup of hot chocolate.
They were gone. Parents, uncle, all gone. It didn't matter why. She dully remembered something… something on the edge of her memory, maybe about a trip, a grown-ups-only trip, but it skittered away under the force of her tears.
There was nowhere else to go. They wouldn't let her return to LazyTown. She sobbed in between sobbing for her family, when she realized she would never be able to return to that place again. There was no reason to, logically. She wasn't going to be sent to stay with her uncle over the summer anymore.
There was no one who could save her from this.
She nodded slowly, looking up at the woman and her husband that would be her foster parents until someone adopted her. She felt slightly ill, dizzy, like she would fall over at any second. But she stayed on her feet.
'We're really glad you're here," the woman said sweetly, and bent over and picked up one of Stephanie's suitcases.
The man and woman smiled at her, and she tried to smile back out of politeness. Maybe it wouldn't be so bad. Maybe everything would be alright.
Of course, it wasn't. It never would be. Her family was dead, she was alone, and…
"Didn't you finish the dishes yet?"
Stephanie cringed, though she knew not to by now.
"The water in the sink was too hot, so I was letting it cool down a little before I started," she answered quietly, and she shivered involuntarily and scooted away as they stalked past her and to the sink. They glanced at it and said, "It looks fine to me."
Against her will, the words spilled out of her mouth.
"It looks like that, but I checked it just a second ago and it was still so hot and-"
Abruptly, she was grabbed and her hands arms were forced elbow-deep into the water.
The still scalding hot water.
She screamed and was cuffed in the back of the head for it.
"Who do you think you are! We took you in out of the goodness of our hearts, and give you everything you could want and you won't even do a simple thing like washing dishes when I asked you!"
"Please stop, please it hurts!" She was trying to struggle, trying to get her hands out of the scalding water. They were going numb, and tears ran down her face. She received and hard yank on her bubblegum pink hair before she was released and allowed to remove her arms. They walked away, but paused in the doorway.
"You'll never get adopted if you keep that attitude. It's no wonder you're all alone."
Stephanie turned on the cold water tap and tried to put her arms under the water, silently. The water only made her arms sting more ferociously, but she tried anyway. A tiny voice sneaked past her lips as she looked at her reddened arms.
"There is always a way… ya gotta believe you can make it…"
She looked at the steaming pile of dishes and shifted nervously. There wasn't any way she could do those without dropping something from the sensitive sting now present on her hands and arms. She blinked back more tears, carefully using a rag to wipe the salty trails on her face away.
Later that night she lay in her bed, trying in vain to keep her arms from hurting in any position she was in. She started crying silently, despite her best efforts not to. She wanted her mom and dad. She wanted her uncle. Ms. Busybody, Trixie, Pixel, Ziggy… Sportacus. She'd even take Robbie Rotten at this point.
She sniffled and looked out of her window at the moon hanging in the sky and tried to focus on its quiet light rather than the hurts of her body. She murmured to herself in a sing-song voice.
"There's no use in crying… you gotta keep trying…"
Sportacus' crystal had been ominously quiet all day. Almost all through the autumn and winter, into spring. Save for the occasional disruption from the kids of Lazy Town and Robbie Rotten's half-hearted attempts at kicking him out (he had fallen into a sulk when he lost the position for new mayor to Ms. Busybody), the days were long. And they were boring.
He found himself wishing more and more for summer.
But as summer rolled around, he began to realize. Without an uncle to stay with, the little pink girl would not come back. Without parents to send her there, she would be… where would she be? As the first week of summer drew to a close, he made a decision. It had been an impulse, a loophole, but he was taking it. The one who had called him to the town in the first place was no longer there. Technically, he was no longer bound to protect the little town unless the one who called him there was in that place and requested it.
She had never asked him to look after it forever.
He let Ziggy in on what he was doing, so that the other children wouldn't panic, and because he trusted Ziggy with his secrets more than anyone else.
And with that, he steered his air ship away from the town.
There was a little mop of pink hair that needed to be found.
Stephanie tucked a lock of hair behind her ear again as she gardened outside. The sun hurt her burn, which luckily wasn't disfiguring in any way, but still hurt. But it was one of her chores to make sure the garden was nice looking.
"There you are!"
She startled and shrank into herself before turning to look over her shoulder.
It was like a dream.
There he was, standing with fists on hips and grinning under that ridiculous mustache. If she could have seen his hair under the hat, she was sure it would have been reflecting the sunlight that hurt her arms, like… like Sportacus. Her thoughts were a jumbled mess. He pouted.
You're not gonna say hi to me?"
She cried out in a wordless expression of joy and sorrow, leapt up, and ran straight into his arms and clung to him like he was the last thing in the world. He laughed lightly and spun her around once, hugging her fiercely. She winced as he brushed against her arms and he noticed.
"Stephanie? Are you okay?" he said, concerned. She looked up at him with large sad eyes and he instantly felt his heart hurt. There was something wrong.
At that moment, a man came out of the house, and after inquiring suspiciously as to who this odd-looking blue-clad man might be, he nicely told Stephanie that lunch was waiting, and without waiting for her to say goodbye to her friend, grabbed her by the arm (again, Sportacus noticed her flinch of pain and his worry increased twofold) and led her back into the house. At the last moment, she twisted around, waving to him.
Sportacus stood there for awhile, fear racing through him for one of the surprisingly few times in his life, for being a hero. He ordered his ladder to go up, and left it hovering just above the clouds. He wasn't leaving.
As she had waved, she had mouthed the words that he couldn't have ignored even if he wanted to.
It was later that evening when the commotion happened. He had been doing pushups behind an adjacent house when his crystal abruptly blared to life, glowing brightly. He immediately leapt up and dashed for the house. He was going for the door to leap in, but on the way there was a window. He stopped abruptly when he saw the scene inside, from between the slats of the blinds.
Stephanie was sprawled on the floor, one hand to her cheek, and curled up. The man from before was yelling, Sportacus could not tell what over the rushing in his ears, and a woman was getting up with a pot of coffee, a disgusted look on her face, and saying something… she dangled the steaming pot over Stephanie's curled body.
The door broke abruptly, and startled both man and woman. The woman dropped the pot of coffee, but it landed on the floor instead of on Stephanie, and shattered. Stephanie yelped as some of the hot liquid splashed onto her legs, and she crawled away, hiding under a table.
She had her eyes closed tightly, and hands over her ears, so she didn't see how when the man stormed over to Sportacus, he simply grabbed the man by the shoulder and tossed him into a wall. She didn't see how Sportacus' normally happy blue eyes, like the eyes of a puppy, had turned furious and dangerous, and she didn't hear the foster mother's scream as she fainted from the sheer fright of it.
Sportacus glowered at the two people laying unconscious, but when his gaze traveled over to the huddle quivering underneath the dining room table, he softened immediately and stepped lightly over to her, kneeling down.
"Stephanie," he said gently. She had her hands over her ears. He hesitantly touched her shoulder and she jumped, eyes flying open. It tore at him that they were so full of fear and panic, but he kept the façade of calm and happiness up, and smiled at her very slightly, gently.
Alright! My first LT fic ever. I'm proud. But then I'm also ashamed, because Goblin King looks more and more bleak. AUGH! I'm a horrible writer!
Now, it seems pretty dark so far, doesn't it? But it gets better. Much better. Cuter, funnier, sexier. The whole bit. I shall have to warn you however, that it shall indeed contain slash. Because damn if I'm not a fan of SportaRobbie. But I also think Sportacus and Stephanie are adorable together. You can't win!
There's nowhere near enough SportaRobbie fics. Here's my contribution, world. I had attempted to write another one before this, but... it's on hiatus.
MUCH thankies to the ever-lovely Kamihopper, who draws me pretty pictures and squeals with me about how unfathomably hot Magnus is. If Iceland's glaciers are melting, it's because that man looks far too good in a sweater and jeans. Gawd.
Anyway, she gives me inspirations for this fic, so THANKS KAMI-CHAN!