Hey, guys! Foreigner update!


Chapter Fifteen: I Want to Make You Whole

News of Ruby's outburst spread quickly through the Valley. Nami's disappearance had brought a pang of sadness to the people, and Rock leaving the Inn and living in Jack's barn fostered contempt for Ruby.

Ruby had not set foot outside her room in days. Popuri had spread the word that she had been leaving the Inn one morning when she caught the door slightly ajar. She'd heard Ruby wailing a name again and again, Tim's agitated voice trying to soothe her…

"She just kept saying 'Ken, Ken, Ken' like she was a broken record," Popuri had told Muffy later at the Blue Bar as she nursed a hot cocoa.

Autumn was beginning to turn to winter, the citizens of Forget-Me-Not-Valley observed… The leaves had all but fallen now, leaving the trees bare and almost withered. People had begun to bundle up lightly…

But people had begun looking at Sophia strangely. It was too hot for heavy coats, and yet Sophia was always wearing bulky clothes. She always seemed to be in a hurry; and the only times she'd leave the Villa it was to go to Hardy's Clinic or visit Muffy or Takakura, who claimed they knew nothing of her strange behavior and the ailment that always had her sick to her stomach.

Muffy had begun visiting Rock at Jack's farm regularly, bringing him hot cocoa and fresh food that's he had attempted to make. Rock was never chatty, never revealing…

Then, one day; the first wave of good news came…

It was late in autumn when Celia's squeal pierced the air. Vesta and Marlin had gone running to the Goddess Spring… only to find Jack bended on one knee; Celia crying tears of joy…

The wedding was set a week later, and so many people fawned over Celia; helping her choose her dress, the decorations, the food…

The Sisterhood was thrilled; but there were some that were sad, jealous…

Sophia seemed to fall into a melancholy at the news. She had rubbed her stomach which was already starting to bulge a bit and had wept a little in the sanctuary of her room, cradling her blue feather in her arms; the feather that had begun to lose its shine.

Although Muffy put up the front that she was thrilled for her good friend, behind that mask of boundless energy and enthusiasm was the discouragement… the feeling that she would not find love as Celia had. Muffy had laid off pursuing Rock for a bit, letting him rest in the darkness of the barn…

Mary had nodded at the appropriate times, her puffy eyes partially magnified by her round eyeglasses. She looked at Karen in defeat and envy; envy as she helped Gray walk again and their relationship flowered. Tim had not spoken to her since the incident; he blamed her for losing the specimen of the King of the Day. Mary was more alone than ever…

But the others; Popuri, Karen, Elli, Flora and especially Celia were so very happy on those days of the preparations. Their relationships were flowering as well… Popuri and Marlin had gone out on dates, even kissed; Karen and Gray were starting to fall in love; Elli had begun to get closer to Rick, and the poultry farmer had not objected. And Flora; Flora had started the unlikely romance with none other than Darryl.

The week of preparation went by so fast that they could hardly believe it. On the eve before the wedding, Muffy had insisted they have a bachelorette party at the Blue Bar. They had gathered late that night, and they had drank, save Sophia, that had come up with an excuse not to.

"I can't believe I'm getting married," Celia repeated for what most have been the umpteenth time that night.

"Yeah, yeah," Karen said as she cradled her beer with a contented smile, "I already know, little cousin."

Celia slapped Karen on the back playfully, almost making her drop her drink. "I can't believe it's Jack," Celia continued, the light in her eyes more radiant than ever, "I always loved him you know… from the day that I met him…"

Muffy flinched behind the counter; Sophia let her fingers brush against the blue feather in her pocket fleetingly; Mary adjusted her glasses to hide the tears that were forming there…

Celia, who seemed to be in her own little dream world, went on and on about how she loved Jack; how she was so sure that they would spend the rest of their lives together, have children, play with their grandchildren, cultivate their farm together…

Muffy seemed to recoil at every loving word that Celia spoke. Finally, as Celia went into a fresh retelling of how Jack had popped the question, Muffy excused herself and ran up the stairs.

All eyes fell on Sophia, who was stirring her soda absently with her straw. When she noticed that everyone was looking at her, Sophia sighed and wobbled over to the backroom on already swollen ankles.

Sophia had always thought that Griffin's and Muffy's rooms were so different… Griffin's room was dull; sparsely decorated with only a bed and his golden guitar. Muffy's room was painted in a vibrant red; adorned with all sorts of beautiful decorations that captured her bubbly, energetic self perfectly.

When Sophia entered Muffy's room, she found her on the floor, crying softly as she toyed with a diamond ring.

She stood there in silence, watching her best friend cry; trying to muster up the emotional strength to deal with someone else's problems…

Muffy looked up, her cheeks dirty with dark tears that had mixed with her mascara; washing away the rouge she wore on her cheeks. She beckoned Sophia over and she came, sitting on her bed.

"You know," Muffy managed after taking in a deep, shuddering breath, "this ring was given to me ten years ago, if you believe it… I was eighteen; right out of high school, fighting with my parents so that I wouldn't have to go to college… and most importantly; hopelessly in love…"

"Who?" Sophia asked softly.

Muffy grinned in remembrance. "He was a hunk; let me tell you. The quarterback of the football team; tall, dark, handsome…" the grin faded away, "He proposed to me at the graduation party he was throwing at his house… and, silly me, I accepted…"

"What happened?" Sophia insisted, wringing her hands in her lap and looking down at them.

"I basically sent my parents straight to hell," Muffy muttered, "They'd always thought I could go to college; had a trust fund all set up and everything…" Muffy's voice broke; Sophia gave her a moment to compose herself, "And I ran away with my fiancé to his college where he'd gotten a full scholarship for playing football.

"Long story short he got injured his first year there so bad that he could never play football again," Muffy said coolly, no doubt remembering the event, "He… took his anger out on me; he never hit me or anything, but he would always insult me and treat me like crap when I had give him everything I could afford to give him…" Muffy shivered, "I left him and drifted for a while until I met Griffin in the city… he was the bartender and I was just a waitress…"

"And that's when you came here?"

Muffy nodded. "Our pay over there wasn't that good. Griffin was watching out for me even then…" she smiled sadly, "So he told me about his plans to open a bar in this small town and promised me better pay and room and board. I accepted and I came here… This place… there wasn't anyone here to break my heart anymore; no one that I was interested in at least… But… Sophia… even though here I can't get my heart broken… I still want to try and find love…"

"Why?" Sophia demanded, meeting Muffy's eyes for the first time in a long time, "Why do you want to fall in love? It's so much easier to live without it, Muffy!" her grip tightened around the feather in her pocket so that she made a fist, "Why do you put yourself through so much pain and worry all the time?"

Muffy looked at Sophia thoughtfully, only now noticing her friend's pain. "I-I… I need to be whole," Sophia's head snapped up to look at Muffy's sad, puffy and red face, "All my life… I've known that there's this… void right here," Muffy's pale hand flitted to her chest, "There's no reason why; it's just there… It's always been there; tearing at me from the inside out… and when that quarterback told me he loved me; that hole was suddenly gone.

"And even though it gets bigger and bigger each time I get rejected, or dumped…" Muffy hugged herself, "If I don't fill this void I… my life will be so empty… and I don't want it to be empty…" Muffy looked up, "One last time… for one last time Sophia… I'm going to try… now."

Sophia looked at Muffy in confusion through her midnight bangs. "What do you mean?" she asked nervously, "Muffy… don't do anything stupid!"

Muffy shook her head, rising. "I can't take it anymore… I'm going to tell Rock the way I feel about him."

"Muffy… don't-," Sophia started.

"I need to Sophia," Muffy told her, vibrant green eyes flashing with determination, "If you're my friend then you know what I have to do… and that you can't stop me."

Sophia looked straight into Muffy's eyes and sighed. But she stayed silent. Muffy mouthed a 'thank you' and began to run out of the room.

How clear it was now, Muffy thought to herself as she ran towards Jack's farm in her high heels, ignoring the pain and never allowing herself to fall when she tripped in the clumsy, constricting shoes.

She knew now that if she waited for things to play out then the void in her heart would only grow; and when she finally did find someone to love she might never be able to love again because of the pain.

She rushed past Jack's empty farmhouse; the men had all gone to Mineral Town for the bachelor party; all of them except one; the best man. Rock had stayed.

Muffy threw open the doors to the barn where a fade light could be seen. Rock looked up from where he lay on a stack of hay that he'd made as a makeshift bed.

Rock had changed over the weeks that he'd been away from the Inn. His hair, usually so full of luster and shine was dull and unkempt. His face that had always been full of playful energy had lost its tan; becoming a sickly shade of pale, his eyes had lost their shine, his face was, to put it simply, miserable.

"Muffy?" Rock asked her, rubbing his eyes, "I thought you were supposed to be at the bachelorette party…"

His voice had turned hollow since the incident in the Inn; a hollowness that Muffy hated when it reached her ears. She looked into Rock's orange tinted eyes; his eyes darted away, avoiding hers. Muffy didn't try to hold them; not yet.

"I was," she said, hoping she was giving off the confidence she was aiming for, "But while I was listening to Celia talk about how much she loved Jack I noticed something I should've noticed a long time ago."

Rock's eyes looked up and into Muffy's green orbs. "Muffy…"

"But before I tell you what I noticed," Muffy said, ignoring the mention of her name, "I want you to tell me your story."

Rock scowled and looked away. "I'm not up for it."

"I'm not going anywhere," Muffy huffed, kicking some hay out from under her and taking a seat across from Rock, "So you can hold it in for as long as you want… I'm sure we can live off cow milk."

Rock's lip curled, his eye twitched… if Muffy hadn't blinked at that moment she would've thought that was a smile. It disappeared in that instant of time, leaving Muffy wishing that she could see that radiant smile she loved most about Rock.

"You're not leaving, huh?" Rock mumbled just loud enough for Muffy to hear.

"Nope," Muffy said, then shrugged, "You might as well tell me, you know…"

Rock sighed, ran a hair through his grimy hair and looked at the roof. "I had a brother…" Muffy blinked a little in surprise, but said nothing, "His name was Ken… But the thing was that he wasn't my… brother-brother… he was my half-brother…"

"Ruby cheated on Tim!?" Muffy exclaimed in shock.

Rock shook his head weakly. "No… if only it had been that simple…" Rock got a sad look in his eyes, "Mom- Ruby, I mean… she was… raped," Muffy gasped, Rock recoiled.

"And… you…?" Muffy managed.

He nodded, looking down into his lap. "Yes… I am the product of that…" Muffy looked at Rock sadly, hoping that she could do something, anything, to make all that pain go away, "But… even though mom and dad didn't… love me… my big brother Ken did… he basically taught me everything I know… and he was… like, you know… my role model."

Muffy waited as Rock paused, searching for the right words to finally release the story that had been plaguing him for so long. "But… when he was seven and me five… we went… swimming… mom warned me not to go into the deep water… but I did… and a whirlpool, or something… sucked me in…"

"Oh, Rock," Muffy whispered, knowing where the story was going.

"I was drowning… drowning under all this water…" Rock whispered, tears trailing down his cheeks, "But… when I was about to go… Ken… he saved me… pulled me out of the tide… and I floated to the surface…"

"And Ken…?" Muffy asked him, already knowing the answer.

Rock shook his head. "The tide… it was too strong… and when he went to get me out… it pulled him in… and… and…" his voice broke.

Muffy shot up and ran over to Rock. Then, like a mother, she gathered him in her arms and held him. "Mom… mom hated me because of that…" Rock sobbed, "Because I killed him…"

"You didn't kill him," Muffy snapped, running her hands through his hair, "It wasn't your fault."

They stayed like that for a long time until Rock quieted and Muffy pulled away, her shirt drenched in his tears. She took his hands in both of hers. "My turn, huh?" she said, smiling at him through her own tears.

She told him, told him about all her heartbreaks… She had begun to cry when she finally reached the point about her feelings. "Rock…" she whispered nervously, "I know that this may not be the right time… but…" she met his eyes; this time he didn't look away, "I want to make you whole."

Rock's puffy, red-rimmed eyes widened, but Muffy spoke before he could say anything. "I've felt this way for a long time," she explained, suddenly feeling very scared, "But I've… never told you because… I'm afraid," she admitted, "I'm afraid that you'll break my heart like so many of the others-,"

Rock pressed his lips on her cheek, effectively silencing her. Muffy could only look at him in shock as he spoke. "Y-you… love me?"

Muffy smiled sadly. "I'm afraid so… I'm… sorry…"

"Don't be…" Rock said, "Please… don't be… Muffy, please?" Muffy pulled him into a hug, "Thank you for… loving me… I-I… I love you too…" he whispered.

And so it was that the heartbroken lady and the loveless young man had finally received what they had always lacked yet desired with every fiber of their being.

Sophia dipped her pen in the ink bottle one last time, signing her name with a quivering hand. It was a letter. To Kai.

He deserved to know. She needed him back; now. Her fears; they were still there, begging her to stay silent… but she knew… a part of her insisted that Kai could never betray her that way; that the man that she had fallen in love with would never… could never betray her in such a way.

Not taking a second thought, Sophia rushed into town and threw the letter into the mailbox.

There was no turning back now…

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Oh, and, 'Of Love and Faith' and 'Where the Heart is' fans, I'm updating OLaf as usual; tomorrow, but WtHi I'm updating on Wednesday since Thursday and Friday are Thanksgiving break and I'm off :). So, don't worry! You'll get your helping of my fics this week!

See ya guys then!