Author's Note/Disclaimer: I do not own any part of Harvest Moon, Harvest Moon: Tree of Tranquility, or Harvest Moon: Animal Parade, any of its official characters or franchise; those belong to Natsume and its other respectful owners. This is about Jin and Anissa's son Van, the female child that you can give birth to when you're married to Luke in ToT (Annie), and all the other offspring, including the ones exclusive to Animal Parade. Enjoy~
Great. I could hear her brown work boots stomp down the tiled path that ran down the center of town. Soon she would clamp one hand onto the back of my shoulder, squealing "Vannie!" as she did so. Annie, the girl from my childhood whose monstrous crush on me was crippling.
Just as I had predicted, her palm came down on my shoulder blade, hard. "Vannie!"
I sighed. "Yes Annie, what is it?" She looked entirely like her mother Angela, minus the spiky wing-like hair style, but on the inside she was one-hundred percent her father Luke.
"What's up? Helping your dad out at the clinic again?" She could be so frustrating at times.
"Of course I am, you know that Annie. I do every day, excluding Mondays."
"Yeah, I know. You're so predictable. Why don't we go hang out under Ben's Tree today for a change of pace?" She weaved her arms around mine, smiling.
"Sorry Annie, but I'm busy. Maybe another time." She gave me a hurt look before turning away, haughtily.
"Fine!" She cried before running down the street. I sighed again, and then entered my father's clinic.
"What was happening outside?" He asked me, looking up from his medical reference book. You could always count on one being in his hands most of the time.
"Annie happened." I rolled my eyes, slipping on a white medical coat. My great-grandmother Irene giggled affectionately from behind the clinic's main counter. Either Grandma Irene or Mom, usually one or the other teased me about Annie's insatiable affection for me.
"I think she's a sweet little creature. You ought to give her a chance sometime." Grandma cooed. I rolled my eyes.
"All right grandmother, let's give Van a break today. But I am feeling a little nostalgic, seeing those two together. Reminds me of when they were young."
"Not you too Dad." I groaned. "Come on, let's get to work."
That Vannie could be so infuriating. Now what was I suppose to do with my time now that he's working with his father? Grandpa Dale won't let me work at the shop, saying women shouldn't be doing such heavy labor (does that exclude childbirth?), and Mom chased me away from the Sunshine Ranch, saying I was driving her up the wall with my hyperactivity.
I spotted Angie on the horizon, helping her mom carry out a sign advertising some big sale at the tailor shop that weekend. I ran up behind her and wrapped my arms around her waist, knowing she would completely freak, which she did, shrieking out in surprise.
"Gotcha!" I cried when she turned around, face flustered. She was such a cutey!
"Annie!" she whined, trying to find her composure, straightening out her skirt. Her mom, Candace, only giggled. I think she was my number one fan, next to Pop. "Wh-what are you doing here anyway?"
"Vannie's being a jerk. Hi there, Candace," I waved around Angie where her mother stood. She waved back, smiling.
"Annie, how are you?" I wrapped my arms around Candace; she was like my second mother.
"Great! Can Angie come out and play?"
Angie rolled her eyes. "Annie, we're eighteen, we're not little kids anymore."
But her mom only laughed, waving a hand. "Go on you two, have fun."
"Thanks C!" I commandeered Angie's hand, just like when we were kids, and dragged her along to the Sundae Inn. "Pick up the pace Angie! I'm starving!"
"Annie!" I heard her call behind me. "I'm gonna trip! Slow down!"
When we entered our friend Dakota's family's establishment, I tossed my dear Angie into a chair, me taking the one across from her. I smiled. "My treat."
"You seem a little more rowdy than usual today Annie. What's wrong?"
"What makes you think something's wrong?"
"Annie, you're predictable. You always mask aggravation and pain with jokes and laughter. Tell me what happened."
I conceded defeat. Angie was good, what could I do? "It's just Van. We're soul mates, and he doesn't seem to think the same. Always yelling at me and avoiding me. I'm a treat to be around! Men break down my front door to catch a fleeting glimpse of my face."
"Annie," Angie gave me a stern look. Ew, she looked just like her aunt Luna there for a minute. A scary concept.
"Okay, so maybe 'breaking down my front door' is a little much."
My lunch companion cocked an eyebrow. "If memory serves me, the only person who's ever broke down any door to get to you was Dakota, and that was only because you stole the cupcake she made for Roy."
"Don't remind me. Roy was the winner in that bargain, believe me." I clutched my stomach at the memory. Whoever convinced Dakota that a tuna belonged in a cupcake deserved the death penalty. Colleen wandered over eventually, wearing that same bright smile that both her daughter and granddaughter inherited from her. She took our orders—banana pudding for me, a plain omelets for Angie—and once again we were left alone.
"Speaking of which, where is Dakota? She still works here with her folks, doesn't she?"
"Annie, you know perfectly well where Dakota is: at the mine, waiting for Roy to emerge with a once-hot lunch consisting of baked corn that Yolanda made."
"Seems probable." When Colleen returned with our orders, I couldn't help but laugh when I caught sight of my pudding.
"What's so funny?" asked Angie.
"You know," I tried to force out between bits of laughter, "my dad actually puts mayo on his banana pudding. Drives Mom and me crazy."
Angie smiled. She and I had been best friends before I even met Vannie, and after countless years of slumber parties, she grew use to my father's oddities. She didn't recoil from them like most, only embraced him. My sweet little Angie! "Somehow I'm not surprised. How is he recovering from that back injury?"
"Not well. He's so stubborn! He refuses to take even one day off from work. Luckily, I plan to take him to Dr. Jin's today so I can tattle on him."
"Oh? And that's the only reason you're going to the clinic?"
I shrugged, shoveling a spoonful of pudding into my mouth. "What's it to ya?"
"Let's see here," my dad scanned over the appointment schedule. Thank Goddess it was almost five, almost time to be relieved from my apothecary duties. "Ah, it's Luke. To check up on his injury."
Oh no. "Luke? As in father of the esteemed and revered Annie? That Luke?"
"The very same. Don't be like that Van. Annie's harmless. One day you'll take over my practice, and Annie will probably be one of your patients, you might as well make friends with her."
I hated it when my dad was right. I guess the little pipsqueak never really did bring me any harm. Only headaches. "Fine."
"Good. Ah, here they come, up the walk. Get ready, Annie looks determined."
The actual examination went well with little incident. Annie pointed the finger at her father, exposing his secret of taking hardly any time away from work. Dad worked himself up into another long lecture reserved for such careless patients. He interrupted himself only once to tell me to run upstairs and grab the medicine he had set out for Luke. Big surprise, as soon as I was up there and had my hand on the bottle did I hear Annie's voice.
"Hiya Vannie! How's it going? Did you have a nice day?"
I sighed, remembering what my father said. "Yes, I did, thanks. If you'll excuse me, I have to get this medicine to your father."
"Sure, sure." She stepped aside so I could get around her. I felt her hand in my doctor's jacket, placing something in there. I stopped to ask what she had given me, but she was already half way down the stairs to the lobby before I could open my mouth. I followed her, handing the medicine to Luke.
"Thank you Van. Now Luke, I've given your daughter my home phone number, so if you cause her and your wife any trouble when it comes to staying home from work, she's going to call me and I'll have to come and give you a sedative to keep you immobile."
Wait, what? Dad gave Annie what? Wasn't it bad enough the little squirrel knew where we lived, now she has our phone number?
They left, Luke's head held low. My dad was stressed, so I didn't broach the subject on his giving Annie our phone number, but inside I was dreading coming home to where the telephone, an appliance that I once thought was harmless but now would lead to my demise, was waiting.