A/N: Set a couple years after the events in the Ruby/Sapphire arc of Pokemon Adventures, I guess. It's essentially AU, though, where I'm assuming they got together at some point and fell madly in love. :P Still, angst and romance ahead!

Edit-I guess I should have clarified. In my mind, they're probably about 19 or 20 by this point, not younger kids. So I guess a "couple" years is inaccurate. :P Thanks to Kidd Icarus for bringing that to my attention. XD

That Day By the River

Ruby jolted up in bed, panting heavily as his eyes darted around the room. The place was silent, except for Sapphire's quiet snoring, but he hunched forward, gripping the bedspread as he stared at his knees with wide eyes. His body trembled, and sweat dripped from his forehead. He forced himself to take slower breaths.

Just a dream, he thought. Not happening… just a nightmare… he clenched his eyes shut as the dream resurfaced in his mind, images flashing, a slideshow of his worst fears. A river, a picnic. Her red bandanna. That pokémon.

Ruby reached up to rub his face, forcing his grip to loosen on the bedspread. There was no river, no pokémon, not now. Just him, panicking over a nightmare, and Sapphire, sleeping soundly as ever.

Just a dream.

Except it wasn't. He remembered that afternoon with terrifying clarity—he could remember what drinks he'd packed in their picnic basket, what joke she'd told him just before the wind picked up. He remembered her diving into the water after that stupid bandanna, and that damn Tentacruel (what was a Tentacruel even doing so far upstream?) pulling her under.

He knew he'd called Zuzu out of habit, but he didn't know if the two pokémon fought. All he remembered was how he towed her onto the river bank, how cold she felt, how she didn't open those gorgeous eyes of hers. How she wasn't breathing.

The sweat had dried, but his skin felt clammy, and he was shivering again, shuddering as his subconscious brought back the memories of that day. It was a month and a week later, and he knew he'd be having nightmares for the rest of his life. He looked to the left, crimson eyes watching the young woman like the lifeline she was. There was no water. Her skin wasn't pale. And he could see the blanket rising and falling when she breathed.

He tried to force himself to calm down. His heart still thudded in his chest, even though he logically knew there was no danger here, now. He couldn't tear his eyes away from Sapphire's face. I came so close to never seeing her eyes again. Or hearing her laugh. Latios, how would I have lived without her laugh? He clenched his eyes shut, trying to block out those thoughts.

Beside him, Sapphire shifted, "Mmm. Ruby?" He barely noticed her watching him, the frown that tilted her lips as she noticed his stiff posture. "What's going on?"

Her voice jolted him out of his reverie. He looked at her, and from her alarmed expression, he knew he didn't do a very good job of acting casual. She sat up as well, her frown deepening, "What's wrong?" She put a hand on his arm, felt him tremble. "You're shaking."

His breath hitched, and he felt tears pricking the corners of his eyes as he saw the concern on her face. His mind jumped back to her face on that day, emotionless, almost peaceful, but wrong, so wrong. He tried to take a deep breath, because worrying her wouldn't help anyone, this was just something he had to get past on his own.

"Ruby?" she said sharply, giving his arm a slight shake. "What happened, Ruby? Are ya okay?"

"Just… just a nightmare," he choked out, running a hand through his messy hair.

She was silent for a moment, and when she spoke, her voice was soft and laced with guilt, "Was it… that day by the river?"

Ruby said nothing, but her hand was still on his bicep, and she could feel him tense. She swallowed hard and scooted closer, closing the already small gap between them. Her arms wrapped around his shoulders, and she leaned up to capture his lips in a kiss, "Hey, I'm okay. And I already promised ya I'd never do something like that again."

He pulled her onto his lap and hugged her close, breathing in the scent of her hair (he loved the scent of her hair—it always smelled like a wild forest on a clear summer day, no matter how many perfumes he pushed at her). Not for the first time, he silently thanked whatever god was out there that the day by the river wasn't her last.

"I know," he muttered, holding her like he'd wanted to do nearly nonstop since then. She'd laughed at him, said he was paranoid and too protective, but he remembered feeling the warmth leave her skin and vowed every time he looked at her—never again.

Sapphire seemed to realize that what he needed was merely her presence, so she curled up against him and let herself drift back to sleep. He didn't let go of her, not when she started snoring again, or when he felt himself nod off as well. Eventually, he let them sink back onto the mattress, and he covered them with the blanket, but he kept his tight hold on her.

In the dark of the night, he remembered the moment his breath breathed life back into her. He remembered her coughing harshly, but then her sapphire eyes focused on him, and she mumbled his name, exhausted but alive. And he thought that, at the very least, that day by the river had taught him something not many people ever learned.

A/N: I love reviews. :)