Friendship or Love?

A/N: Okay! I've been on a Harvest Moon jig lately, so I got this great idea for this story. I've also noticed that there are no real friendship pieces between the girls... It's all about the rivalry. Many of my non-Sonic pieces haven't turned out too good, so I'm hoping this one will. So please Review!

Anyway, On with the story!

The girl farmer sighed as she set down her last large jug of milk on the hay-covered floor of the barn. Wiping beads of sweat from her forehead with a white handkerchief, the farmer picked up the milk jug again and continued on her path.

Claire, the girl farmer, was only nineteen, but was extremely strong for one of her age. With locks of curly gold hair and sapphire eyes along with a face as beautiful as a china doll, this girl could easily be mistaken for a harvest goddess. Her hair curled in large flowing springs at the ends, giving her face the perfect frame. Claire needed no make-up to show off her beauty; she looked just as good without it. A pair of red overalls along with a white, long-sleeved polo shirt with an orange plaid pattern on it showed off many of her curves. White, finger cut off gloves and sensible brown shoes completed her look.

Sapphire eyes swept over her large barn. Six cows mooed about in their stalls, begging for food while her six sheep moved about freely along with a single calf. The names of the cows going down the stalls were Bessie, Hannah, Demeter, Jill, Trixie, and Lucy. The calf hadn't received a name yet because it was just born this morning.

Claire cried and smiled at the memory of the birth. Sadly, the mother, Tracy, hadn't survived giving birth to the little cow, which left the calf all alone. Tracy had been Claire's first cow and had a total of six calves including the new one. She had been with the girl farmer for a total of four years, about as long as Claire had been in Mineral Town. Claire had been forced to bury the aged cow in the planting field to give the soil some nutrition. Thankfully, the little calf hadn't seen her mother lying on the ground, cold and unmoving.

Setting the jug next to a cream-colored machine, Claire kicked the ground with the sole of her brown shoe, her eyes reflecting sadness at Avalon Farm's sudden loss. A strand of her gold hair swept into her gaze as she tucked it behind her ear again.

She remembered how Tracy would always come up to her and nuzzle her arm when she was feeling sad… Claire also remembered that Tracy and her were the ones to take first place in the cow festival two years running.

Kneeling on the ground besides to the milk can, Claire put her thoughts of Tracy into the back of her mind. She rolled up her sleeve to check the time. 5 o'clock, good. She still had one whole hour to get her farm work finished and bathe before the girls started to arrive.

The new calf stumbled over to the girl on its new legs as the farmer carefully began pouring the milk into the top of the machine. Curious, the calf carefully rubbed its nose against the farmer's arm, gaining her attention.

"What is it, little one?" Claire asked, smiling brightly at the calf, as the rest of her sadness seemed to disappear. She set the half full milk can down as she gave her full attention to the new calf. She was just so cute! It was hard to be sad when you were looking at those big adorable brown eyes… "Man, Popuri will go nuts over this one!" she thought.

Stumbling past the girl, the newborn animal cautiously examined the milk jug with the white creamy substance. A fresh, but sweet and familiar scent filled the cow's nose. Claire cocked her head to one side and smiled as the cow sniffed the jug.

Suddenly, without hesitation, the girl cow stuck her whole head down in the jug, licking at the milk. Claire laughed as the calf brought her head out of the milk jug, her whole pink muzzle coated in milk.

"Come here, little one," Claire laughed, digging out her handkerchief and carefully wiping the calf's muzzle.

With the milk gone, the little calf let out a tiny squeal of joy as she stumbled away to the half invested grounds. Claire watched her go with a tiny grin.

Shaking her head and returning her attention the machine before her, Claire carefully began pouring the rest of the milk into the machine. With the last drop in, the girl pushed the gray button on the center. The machine roared to life as it churned the milk into a thick cheese. Soon, a large block of yellow cheese came out of the open slot.

Claire took the cheese with care and placed it in her rucksack along with her other six blocks of cheese. Shouldering her sack again, the female made her way over to the shipping bin, placed the cheese beside the yarn, and exited the barn.

A setting sun greeted the girl over the crest of the far off mountains as she closed the barn door behind her. She shadowed her eyes with one of her gloved hands to see the spectacular colors better. Oranges met reds and yellows as the pink sun continued going down.

"Hey Claire!"

Dropping her gaze, the girl looked to the entrance of her farm in surprise only to see none other than Karen making her way over to her.

"Hey Karen!" returned Claire with a wave.

Karen was a girl of about twenty or so with long brown hair and light blonde highlights. With cat like eyes and a stunning body, it was easy to say that Karen was a sight to behold. Her aloof and somewhat tomboyish personality matched her character perfectly. Besides her regular outfit, -short, purple jacket with white T-shirt and jean shorts along with brown boots- Karen shouldered a large brown rucksack, similar to the one Claire got from the Supermarket.

Most likely, it was the same one. While attractive enough to be a movie star, Karen worked along side her parents at their Supermarket. The female didn't absolutely love the job, as she told Claire many times, but it was tolerable.

In truth, Claire had always been a little jealous of her best friend. While Claire was flying solo and intent on staying that way, Karen had more than one male admirer around town. Just to name a few, Rick was Karen's childhood friend and seemed to have a slight crush on the girl while Won thought of her as a beauty.

Karen's green eyes swept over the large, newly rebuilt farm. A low whistle escaped her lips. "You really turned this place from a dump to a world class A farm!" She remembered back to when the farm was just a waste of space. Now, the animals and the plants thrived with life with Claire in charge.

Claire blushed a little, her gaze sweeping over her work. Half the soil fields had been turned into luscious green fields while the other half was used as planting and a chicken yard. The chicken coop had been newly remodeled and her house had all of the expansions Gotz could come up with. She had also just gotten the three makers from the blacksmith's and upgraded all of her tools. "You really think?"

The brunette nodded vigorously. "Totally! Before you came here, this place was all weeds and rocks. Now… well just look at it!" She gestured to the whole farm. "I still can't believe that you did this all in four years. It would have taken me, like a decade."

The blonde chuckled at her best friend's remark.

"So… who else is coming to the sleepover?" Karen questioned, her eyes twinkling mischievously.

"Um… let's see… Popuri's coming, along with Elli, Mary, and Ann of course."

"So all of the single gals?"


Karen nodded her head in agreement at her friend's choice. "All right then. And you got the big bed, right?"

"Would I be having this sleepover if I didn't?" Claire countered, shifting her rucksack to her other shoulder and raising one eyebrow.

"I guess not… So how's Tracy doing with the baby?"

Claire winced at Karen's statement, her grin fading into a sad frown.

Karen immediately noticed this. "Hey, what's wrong? Did the baby die?"

The blonde farmer shook her head. "No, no. It's not that… it's… Tracy died giving birth to the calf today."

The brunette's eyes widened as she put a comforting hand on Claire's shoulder. Karen knew better than anyone that Tracy was Claire's favorite cow. "I-I'm so sorry… We could reschedule the sleepover if you want; I'm sure the others would understand."

Claire suddenly perked up and shook her head, her golden curls flying. "No, it's all right. These things happen." Turning towards the chicken coop with Karen following, Claire continued. "Besides, I need something to get my mind off of it."

"Well… alright. If you're sure you're okay…"

"I'm fine, quit worrying so much!"

Karen casually ran a hand through her hair as Claire stopped at her beehive. "At least I worry. You know someone needs to have your best interests in mind since you live here all alone…. You really should think about finding a guy-"

"Oh please!" Claire scoffed, picking the honey from her hive. "Not that again! I've told you a hundred times, I like flying solo and that's the way it's gonna stay."

The female rolled her green eyes. "Come on! You have to have someone in mind that would make a good partner. What about Cliff?"

"Ann likes him."


"Everyone knows he has a crush on Mary."

"Doctor Trent?"

Claire rolled her sapphire eyes, placing the honey in the shipping bin. "Elli."


Putting her hands on her hips, Claire glared at Karen. "You know and I know that Popuri and Kai are like meant to be."

"Well there's got to be someone!" argued Karen as Claire and her stepped inside the chicken coop. "I know! Rick!"

"He has an obvious crush on you!"

Karen blushed a bright red. "We're just friends! The day Rick has feelings for me will be the day the Gourmet becomes a vegetarian."

Claire cocked one of her eyebrows as she gathered the six eggs and placed them in the mayonnaise maker. "I don't know about that. The Doctor did say that the Gourmet's blood pressure was awfully high…"

"CLAIRE!" Karen screeched, stamping her foot on the ground to emphasize her statement. "We're just friends! F-R-I-E-N-D-S!" By now, the female's face was deep red.

Claire laughed at her friend's childish antics. "Okay! You're just friends, I get it." Taking the six bottles of mayonnaise, the girl set them down in the shipping bin and exited the chicken coop along with Karen, who had calmed down.

The brunette huffed out the last of her anger. "I wish you would quit teasing me about that…"

"And I wish for twenty thousand dollars along with an all expense paid vacation to Hawaii, but we can't all have what we want." Claire turned away from Karen and began to walk towards her fields with her watering can.

Karen followed, her attention taken up by the various crops blooming from the ground. "What crops are you growing this Spring?"

Without turning her attention away from watering her crops, Claire answered. "All of them. Turnips, cucumbers, potatoes, and strawberries."

"I'm not usually a health nut, but those strawberries do look pretty tasty…"

Claire smiled to herself as she looked among the strawberry plants. If anyone in Mineral Town had a sweet tooth, it was Karen. For two years in a row the girl had tried to put jam and chocolate into the gigantic soup pot at the Harvest Festival. "Here," she said, finding a fully-grown one and showing it to Karen. "I just harvested a few this morning, so I don't really need this one."

Karen took it with a huge smile on her face. "You sure?"

Claire nodded as she finished watering the last of her crops.

Smiling, the brunette gave the strawberry a quick wipe down on her shirt and then bit into it. Sweet juices from the vegetable filled her mouth as soon as it hit her tongue. "You know," she said, swallowing. "I can never understand how you grow such good strawberries."

The blonde farmer flashed her a warm smile. "That's for me to know and you to find out."

Karen shrugged her shoulders as Claire put the fully-grown turnips into the shipping bin. "That's the same answer you gave me when I asked how you ran this farm all by yourself."

Again, Claire smiled. Harvesting a handful of strawberries, she answered. "I know. It just takes hard work and determination. Here," she handed the rest of the strawberries to Karen. "consider this an early birthday present."

Karen took the vegetables and dropped her rucksack to the ground. Opening the second flap, the girl carefully poured the treats into her bag, zipped it up, and returned it onto her shoulders. "Thanks."

"Don't mention it."

A sudden barking noise coming from the entrance made both girls stop their conversation and look over. Rover, the little brown beagle of the Avalon Farm, was running towards the entrance where a familiar girl with long pink hair was walking in. She smiled brightly as she saw Rover bounding across the earth towards her. Setting down her black rucksack, the girl kneeled down and held out her arms. "Aren't you becoming a big cutie? Huh? Aren't cha Rover?"

The dog leaped into the female's arms and responded by licking her face. The girl's smile grew even bigger as she cuddled the dog in her arms.

"Hey Popuri!" shouted Claire and Karen waving to the pink haired girl.

Popuri looked up from the dog and returned the wave to her two friends, still smiling. Letting Rover loose, the female picked up her rucksack, lifted the hem of her long dress and scurried over to her two companions.

"Hey Claire, Karen! How ya doing?" Popuri asked stopping at the edge of the field.

If anyone could pull off a cute and innocent act, it was Popuri. With tousled pink hair held back with a black ribbon and bright, always cheerful maroon eyes, the girl looked like a young child. However, she was actually along the same age as the rest of the girls. At seventeen years of age, the girl was probably the youngest of the group. Most people never saw her out of her regular outfit, a long flowing dress with a red bottom, white top and black bodice. Much of what Claire learned about raising chickens came from Popuri and her older brother Rick.

Sadly, their mother had recently passed away two years ago. Lilia had been diagnosed with a strange illness back when Claire first came to Mineral Town. She knew from Rick that their father had left in search of a cure. Sadly, he still hadn't returned after six years. Rick was left in charge of the chicken farm while his father was away, much to Popuri's dismay. When winter hit last year, a terrible ice storm snowed everyone in for about one week. Claire had been okay because of all of the wood she had saved up to fuel her fire. Rick and Popuri, however, didn't have enough lumber to fuel their fire for the week. Lilia had caught a terrible cold and she had given out in the middle of the last night.

The funeral had taken place two days after the snowstorm. Lilia had been buried atop Mother's Hill with plenty of new flowers blooming around her. Claire hadn't gone to the funeral. The reasons were, one, she hadn't gotten an invitation, and two; she didn't really know Lilia all that well. Sure, she knew Rick and Popuri, but to be honest, she didn't really think Lilia approved of her. Whenever she had come to the farm with sets of flowers and eggs, Lilia had eyed her like a hawk. She was cheerful when Claire spoke to her, but the farmer just got a weird vibe from her.

"We're fine," Karen said, interrupting Claire's thoughts. "You?"

"Great!" Popuri said, smiling even bigger. "I can't wait for the sleepover to begin. Have the others gotten here yet?"

Claire pushed her gold hair behind her shoulders. "Ann, Elli, and Mary haven't arrived yet." Her sapphire eyes traveled down to her watch. "Then again, it is only five thirty. You two are both early so…"

The pink haired girl grinned. "I came early so I could see how Tracy and her baby are doing."

Again, Claire winced at her former cow's name. She felt Karen put a comforting hand on her shoulder while Popuri just looked confused.

"Um…" Popuri started, looking nervous. "Did I say something wrong?"

Swallowing the lump in her throat, Claire answered. "Tracy died this morning giving birth to the calf."

Gasping, Popuri threw her hands up to her mouth in shock. "Oh my gosh Claire! I am so sorry for saying that! I-I didn't know. I am truly very sorry. I didn't mean to upset you or anything-"

Putting on a smile, the blonde farmer looked to her baffled friend. "It's okay. I know you didn't mean to. These things happen, I guess… The baby's fine though. Once everyone gets here, we can all go to the barn and see her."

Popuri gave a sad, forced smile. "I truly am sorry… If I upset you or anything, I am really sorry. I just… I didn't imagine anything like this happening… and so sudden too. I hope that… the baby will be very healthy and live for many years to come."

"Thanks," whispered Claire, appreciating her friend's kind words.

"Any time," Popuri said smiling.

Karen's green eyes swept past the fields where Taylor, Claire's chocolate brown horse, was grazing and to the entrance again. "Here comes Ann, Elli, and Mary now."

Claire and Popuri turned to look to where Karen was mentioning and saw three girls entering Avalon farm.

"Hey!!!! Elli! Mary! Ann! Over here!" Claire shouted, waving her hand in the air to signal the three. Three hands went up in waves of return.

Ann dashed ahead of her two companions; orange hair flying behind her with a brown rucksack slung over one shoulder. "Hey Claire, Karen, Popuri!" she shouted, grinning broadly.

"Ann! Watch out for the-" started Karen.

As soon as the words left Karen's mouth, Ann tripped over a rock on the ground and fell flat on her face. Popuri, Karen, and Claire tried to stifle their laughter as Elli rushed forward to help the girl onto her feet.

Klutz was probably the best word to describe Ann. Having a tomboyish personality along with being forgetful, Ann was practically a disaster waiting to happen. Her orange hair was usually kept up in a long, high braid with a white ribbon, some stray hair escaping her stubborn efforts. Like always, she was in blue overalls with a yellow shirt underneath and brown sneakers. She wasn't really a fantastic cook, but she could make simple dishes. Working at the inn, she had to learn once her mother died. Much like Claire, the girl didn't really see relationships as her top priority. Of course, anyone with eyes could see that Cliff had a thing for her… she just couldn't see it.

Elli on the other hand, was the complete opposite of Ann. Suited in a ruffled dress made with all different shades of blue, anyone could tell just from their wardrobes that these girls were complete opposites. Elli usually had on a white frilly apron over top with a blue ribbon fitted around her neck and a red gem hanging from it. The apron was tied in a big bow in the back, giving her the appearance of being super skinny. With short brown hair and ruby red eyes, Elli also had a kind and caring face to match. Working as a nurse, Elli was superior in medicines and injuries than the other girls. She usually took care of her Grandmother and baby brother while working alongside Doctor Trent. Claire wondered more than once if Doctor Trent really saw Elli as 'just a co-worker'.

"Are you okay?" gasped Elli, kneeling down at Ann's side while she sat up.

The orange haired girl blushed a bright red and rubbed the back of her head, her light blue eyes twinkling. "I-I'm fine. Embarrassed like hell, but fine."

Sighing, Elli sat up and helped Ann to her feet. "You really should be more careful… One of these days, you're gonna get yourself seriously injured."

"Ah, you worry too much," Ann said, brushing off the nurse.

All Elli did was sigh and adjust her white rucksack onto both of her shoulders. "Just… be careful… Please?"

Rolling her eyes, Ann grumbled, "All right."

"I-I-Is everyone okay?" came a small voice. Mary stepped up behind Ellie, adjusting her glasses on the tip of her nose.

Shy and quiet, Mary usually preferred cheering on from the sidelines than taking the spotlight. A curtain of raven black hair framed her face and acted almost like a blanket of security. Gray eyes lay beneath her small frame glasses. Every day she wore the same outfit; a turquoise dress with white sleeves and collar. Being the only librarian in Mineral Town, Mary was in love with books. The female usually carried a book wherever she went, even sleepovers. A large blue rucksack was perfectly fitted over her shoulders, probably containing one or two books. The quietist of the group, Mary didn't really like to jump into their conversations uninvited. The others had learned to deal with Mary's drawback and looked to it as a strength. The female knew any secrets of the other five girls, but didn't share her own…. Although it was plainly obvious that she was crushing on Gray.

"We're fine," the five girls answered in perfect unison.

Mary sighed in relief and then smiled at Claire. "I wanted to thank you for inviting me… I've never been to a sleepover before."

"Well this one is sure not to disappoint," Claire said, adjusting her red overalls. "I just baked six different desserts and prepared a three course meal for this afternoon."

"I brought some of my dad's homemade cookies and I also baked a little batch of noodles too," Ann said, pointing to her rucksack.

"I snuck some of my family's chocolate bars along with a couple bottles of wine for a snack," Karen explained.

Mary gestured to her rucksack. "I brought some books from the library that contain horror tales for after the movie."

Popuri flashed everyone a big grin. "I brought some eggs from the chicken farm along with spa boiled eggs and extra blankets for everyone."

"I brought some of the my herb tea for relaxation so we can sleep better," Elli said, carefully tucking her hands together.

"So everyone brought something? That's great!" Claire agreed, pumping her fist in the air.

Smiling devilishly, Karen turned to the girls. "Well? Are we gonna stand out here all day or are we gonna party?!"

"Duh! Party any day!" Ann said, raising one of her eyebrows.

Smiling, Claire put the last of her supplies in the shipping bin. "Okay then! Just let me get a shower and I'll prepare the dinner," she said, walking towards her house with the others following. Rover trailed behind the girls as the entered the house, his tail wagging happily as the door closed.

A/N: I was going to combine this chapter and the next, but this one was getting pretty long, so I decided to end it here. I'm really wondering what you guys and gals think of this, so click on that little purple button down there. See it? Now click it and tell me what cha think. If I don't get at least three reviews I won't continue this... and I will know if more than three people have read this.

The next chapter will contain some romance, but mostly friendship right now.