Author's note: So I was going through my files and found this. In my opinion, it's kind of crappy, but I don't know, maybe it's okay enough. Please review if you read? It would be much appreciated, even if it's just an anon comment saying 'Like'.
I do not own Harvest Moon. If I did, it'd be an anime, not a game.
Vaughn never had much of a purpose in his life. As a child, he remembered growing up in an orphanage with a dozen other children, never neglected nor nurtured. Nobody trusted anybody else there, not even the nurses. They took care of themselves and depended on their caretakers. And they were all given away as soon as possible as cheap labour or farmhands.
He was taken up as a farmhand. The owner of the farm did not particularly care for him, but told him he had a strong build and potential; he would be kept warm and fed as long as he worked; and when he was fifteen, he would be given his own wages.
One of the men who worked on the farm was named Daniel. He was very kindly and took a liking to Vaughn. Vaughn, too, became fond of him, and started to look to him as the father he never had. But then the scarlet fever caught hold of Daniel, so Vaughn learned not to give his heart away again.
The scarlet fever didn't just kill Daniel. It took away the life of the owner of the farm as well, and his remaining employees were released. Some had places to turn to. Vaughn was eleven, and he along with several other young workers had nowhere. The eldest of them, a girl of twelve, suggested they stick together and offer labour as a group. He only followed because he didn't have anywhere else to be, and though they went together, he always trailed behind like a black sheep in a white flock. They found work on another farm, because farming was the only thing they knew to do.
That was the start of his wandering days. He could have found himself a permanent job and comfortable home if he liked, but he made sure not to. As soon as he found himself getting slightly fond of absolutely anywhere, he left. He became so handy in such a variety of ways that it didn't matter if he left one job. He quickly found another. Soon, he made a habit of having several jobs in different places at once. It kept him from forming attachments.
People he met often considered him cold and sometimes cruel, but it was hard to have been ill-treated your life and still be cruel; although not even Vaughn knew it. He became so used to being called 'mean' and 'aloof', he almost began to believe he liked the labels.
Sunshine Islands was just the same. At least, it was meant to be the same. He'd met people whose company he didn't mind (i.e. liked) before, so he wasn't alarmed when he became friends with Denny, or found himself eyeing Sabrina. All his trust and ease had withered through the years until he believed it dead.
What he didn't notice was that with his trust went also his caution. He ended up trusting himself a little too much, so he didn't hear the warning bells when it came to his second year on the Sunshine Islands. Or maybe he just refused to hear them, because he was so comfortable not listening to them.
Sabrina was just something different.
Perhaps it was the naïveté and innocence that she represented, which he'd never had to opportunity to experience.
'Vaughn, I never hear you talk about your parents,' she said once day as they were sitting together at the harbour, watching the waves roar and splash around them.
It wasn't a probe for information, but a simple remark. She was curious, however, he could tell. He didn't blame her for it. It was natural seeing as they had become close in recent years, yet he rarely talked about himself. He preferred to talk about work, or listen to her talk about herself. She wasn't the first to be inquisitive about his past, of course, but her kind-hearted, ready sympathy was of the sort he'd never met before, and it was rather reassuring.
'I never knew them, so I can't talk about them,' he said finally.
'Oh! I'm sorry.'
'It's fine. I've learned to live with it.'
'W-well if you ever need anybody to talk to, I'm right here, a-alright? Is that okay?' She began to blush. 'I'd like to know more about you,' she went on in a timid voice.
He had to smile, though it came out a smirk. 'Thanks. I appreciate it.'
She looked up at him and smiled radiantly then, and he should have known, but still he ignored the bells, because there was a feeling like bliss that accompanied her words.
Oh, he got along very well with Sabrina. The first time he talked to her was when he saw her tiredly dragging herself along the path to the mansion. He'd escorted her home then. He had helped because he was a good person at heart (although he wouldn't even admit it to himself), but with time, he learned to like her quiet, shy manner. Even when she came to talk to him or give him gifts, she made sure she wasn't in the way, that it wasn't when he was working, and always caught the first hint if he tired of her company. Unlike a certain brown-haired, bandana-wearing farmer he could mention.
For some reason, he felt responsible for her, almost.
As he was walking up the path to Regis mansion, he saw Sabrina walking in the adjacent direction. There was a light, silvery tinkle and something fell from her pocket. She appeared not to have noticed, as she went on walking, and he went over and picked it up. It was a pendant.
'Sabrina!' he called out. She stopped in her tracks and turned around. 'You dropped this.' He held it up by its chain. The glow of the dying sun glinted off the silver pendant, making it shine. 'Isn't this yours?'
'Oh y-yes it is.' She answered rather weakly.
'If it's that important to you, keep it safely,' he said a little crossly. The pendant had her name carved on the surface and was obviously something expensive given to her as a treasure. He hated seeing anything precious made light of. 'The chain is broken,' he suddenly observed.
'It's been like that for a while,' she sighed.
'And you're not going to fix it?' This didn't sound like Sabrina at all. Despite her family's wealth, she knew how to take care of her things, so he was surprised that something so precious was left in disrepair.
'I-I can't, exactly,' she said nervously. 'My father doesn't know I have it so I can't ask for his help in fixing it. I usually keep it in my pocket, but I didn't realise it fell out just now.'
He observed her pale, anxious face. She appeared to not want her father to find out she had it at all.
'Do you want me to fix it?' he asked at last.
'Wh-what?' she said, startled. 'Would you do that for me?'
'For me'? Why would he do it for her? If the pendant held significance for her, then she should keep it in good shape; and if she was too afraid to ask for help with it and it was in his power to help, he might as well. 'It's no problem. Just give me a sec.'
'You don't have to!' she began to protest. 'It's alright, really!'
With a sharp snap, the ends came together, silencing her objections. 'There. Good as new.'
'Th-that was fast!' She accepted it when he handed it back to her. Then she smiled. 'Thank you very much, Vaughn.'
'It's nothing,' he said gruffly. 'Just make sure to keep your eye on it from now on.'
'I will,' she said happily. 'This pendant used to belong to Mother. It's my only keepsake from her, that's why it's so important to me.'
Noting the use of past tense, he crossed his arms and said 'She kick the bucket?' As soon as the words were out of his mouth, he realised how insensitive he sounded, but to his relief, Sabrina appeared to either not notice, or not mind.
'No, but she left Father, and now she lives far, far away,' she said with a little sadness in her voice, though her smile barely faltered. 'I don't even know where so I can't keep in touch with her.'
Silence fell between them again as Vaughn reflected on her words. 'Sorry. I didn't mean to pry.' He most certainly did not like people prying in his own past, though he didn't know how it was with Sabrina.
'It's alright, I don't mind. I feel better about it, talking about it with you,' she said with a faint blush. 'My father doesn't like the subject, so I can't talk about it with him, but it feels good to have it out in the open.'
'Glad I could be of help,' he said with no notable change in tone. 'I'll be going now.'
'See you around then,' she said, waving as he made to leave. 'Thank you again.'
Somehow, as he raised his hand to return the gesture, he felt inclined to thank her as well.
It was odd that it was Regis who alerted him to the warning bells. Mark came up to him one day after he had finished his work, and told him that Regis wanted to see him. Despite knowing Sabrina loved her father, Vaughn did not like Regis very much what with his pomp and grandeur and was thus reluctant to go.
'It's something about Sabrina,' said Mark, causing Vaughn to start in alarm. 'I don't know what it is, but that's what he said.' When Vaughn merely kept silent, looking troubled, Mark added 'I'll go with you if you're scared,' with a chuckle.
'I'm not scared,' he said angrily. 'Fine, I'm going.'
'Want me to follow?'
'Do whatever you like,' he huffed, storming away and Mark hurried after him.
He was feeling uneasy, not because of Regis, but because he was afraid something had happened to Sabrina. Regis disapproved of Vaughn as much as Vaughn disapproved of Regis, which he knew from the side-eyes he often received when he happened to be in the millionaire's company, so he would have to have a very special reason to call him. He kept a straight face, however, and hastened into the mansion.
'I-I think I'll just stay here,' said Mark nervously when they entered the foyer. 'I'll rush right in if anything happens okay?'
Mark was the one frightened of Regis, really. Vaughn grunted and went on ahead where Sabrina was sitting in front of her father's desk, wringing her hands.
'Ah, you are here,' said Regis in his oily voice. Vaughn simply did not understand how Sabrina could stand it. 'Take a seat.'
Vaughn sat next to Sabrina. She passed him a smile and a shadow of a return of the gesture flickered over his features. Then he turned to Regis and said 'So what are we doing here?'
'You seem to get along very well with my daughter,' Regis began, tone suddenly angry.
From the corner of his eye, Vaughn saw Mark peeking out behind the wall. Mark flashed him a thumbs up and Vaughn returned his attention to Regis. 'Meaning?'
'An uncouth lout such as you would only befriend my daughter for our fortune! I forbid you to come near Sabrina ever again!'
This accusation surprised Vaughn who had not been expecting it. Sabrina, too, was startled, and burst out 'Father! Did you call Vaughn over here just to say that to him? You're so rude to him!'
'Stay out of this, Sabrina!' Regis growled, causing her to deflate.
'But Vaughn's not like that...' she said, upset. 'It's not your decision, Father.' Vaughn himself was becoming increasingly angry, and was soon bristling like a cat with its fur on end.
'I don't believe it!' yelled Regis. 'From what I've heard, this man only cares about money!'
'Heh.' Vaughn smirked despite the fury raging within him. 'It's true that money is the most important thing to me.' Sabrina turned to face him with surprise and fear. He went on without indicating he had noted her reaction. 'But that's not why I'm with Sabrina,' he said with a frown. 'I'm pretty angry that's what you think of me.'
Regis said nothing. And maybe it was the anger. Maybe it was because he simply disliked Regis. Or maybe it was because he could finally hear the warning bells and he was annoyed at himself for not having noticed them earlier. Whatever it was, he certainly wasn't thinking of Sabrina at the time. He loudly said 'I'll never speak to Sabrina again! Happy now?'
'Vaughn?' Sabrina gasped. Somebody might have kicked him in the gut when he heard her hurt voice, but it was too late to take his words back, and he probably wouldn't have, given the choice.
'Yes, that is acceptable to me,' Regis purred. 'Now get out of my house this instance!'
'Shut up already,' said Vaughn, standing up so abruptly, his chair toppled over. 'I'm leaving now.' He then swept out, ignoring Mark who was staring at him wide-eyed, and slammed the door shut behind him.
He was in a blind rage. If he had anything in his hands, it would have been reduced to fine dust. He ran he knew not where, pushing anybody in his path away roughly, kicking at every stone and branch that came near his foot.
'Hey Vaughn!' Mark shouted behind him. He ignored the farmer and merely trotted on faster. 'Come on, man, don't be like this!' Mark pleaded.
Suddenly, in his haste to get away from Mark, he found something large and solid blocking his way, and he barely managed to stop in time. The pause was all Mark needed to catch up with him.
'Where you think you going in that rush?' The boulder turned out to be Gannon. 'Watch out before you get somebody hurt.' Vaughn wanted to punch him, but Mark suddenly grabbed his arm, and Gannon left before Vaughn could free himself.
'What do you want, Mark?' Vaughn said crossly.
'Are you... alright?' said Mark hesitantly in between pants.
'I'm perfectly fine,' Vaughn answered coldly. 'Now if you don't mind, I have somewhere to go.'
'No you don't,' Mark sighed. 'Listen Vaughn, I think you were a little harsh to Sabrina in there –'
'Don't tell me what to do –'
'You wouldn't be like this if you had seen the look on her face! She was almost crying! I bet she is, right now.'
Stuffing his knuckles in his mouth, Vaughn bit down to stop himself from lashing out. On second thought, punching someone in the face wasn't a very good idea. He had once when he was fifteen, and he didn't want a repeat of that ridiculous scenario, no matter how satisfying it would be.
'I'm sure Regis would listen to you if you just pleaded your case-'
'Oh shut up. Like you would.'
'I don't know,' Mark sighed again, looking defeated. Vaughn had barely cherished his triumph before Mark continued 'I think I could brave a lion's den if it was for the person I love.'
His heart gave a twinge, and the image of Sabrina's pale, hurt face and her hurt cry when he swore not to speak to her again rushed to mind. He didn't even know he still had a beating heart. 'L-love?' he spluttered.
'Don't you love her?'
Vaughn figured his face was a terrifying picture by now, judging from Mark's timid tone and scared expression.
'You have no idea what you're talking about, do you?' And he turned around and stormed to the inn.
But perhaps the one who didn't know what he was talking about was Vaughn.
He did see the good that came of this insulting event. Vaughn never realised it until he was confronted about one aspect of it: the fact that he had become inexplicably fond of the islands. It wasn't a simple liking – that he enjoyed the view on Meadow Island, or that Nick cooked good food (except for porridge) – but an actual attachment. Somehow, without realising it, he'd started looking forward to his trips to the island, and it had even become his resting place, a home of sorts.
So he should have left then, he realised that. He should have left a long time ago. But he ended up convincing himself not to. Mirabelle needed him or something like that. Besides, he only spent two days out of the week there. He'd lived without Sabrina before, so why would he need her now?
He could call Sabrina naive all he liked, but that couldn't change the fact that he rather was, too.
Afterwards, whenever he saw Sabrina, he simply acted like she wasn't there. He didn't even try avoiding her usual haunts. And it worked pretty well that day. The second day, his anger was ebbing, and he caught sight of her face when she looked at him.
Thank Goddess the next day he left the island for another town. There he could nurse his anger in peace without Mark's reproachful glances and Sabrina's hurt, lonely eyes.
Hey, Sabrina wasn't his responsibility (no matter how he felt the opposite). She would get over him. He was only one man after all. Sabrina was lovely enough, sweet enough, beautiful enough to attract the attention of any man she wanted. As for him, Sabrina was nothing more than company he tolerated. It shouldn't bother him at all.
'Vaughn, are you feeling alright?' said Julia one day as they were mucking out the chicken coop. 'You've been acting out of it these past few weeks, you know.'
Two things that Julia knew but was not acting upon: one, he hated opening his mouth when doing anything dirty so as to avoid the smell; two, he hated personal questions. He shot her a glare.
'Come on, you've been really weird lately. Has anything happened? Did you fight with Denny again?' Hah! As if fighting with Denny would upset him so much that other people would notice. He wasn't that fond of the fisherman. 'Or... I've seen Sabrina around looking pretty down too.' And something gave a start within him. 'Did you have a fight with her?'
'That's none of your business,' he snapped, storming out and scattering chickens at his feet.
Julia audibly sighed 'So that's what happened, huh?'
It was true that Sabrina had been going around looking downcast. And sure, he worried about her. But then he saw Chelsea meet her as she was walking on the bridge to Verdure Island and make her laugh with a few words, so she was obviously capable of being cheerful without him. She was a strong girl. She'd lived through her parents' divorce and her father's constant presence. She could survive being estranged from one friend. She had many more.
The most annoying part was that nobody else saw that. He could understand Mark confronting him about it. But Chelsea? He made it clear that he wanted nothing to do with her whenever they were within each other's vicinity. And she came to him while he was resting at the inn!
'Hey Vaughn,' called the girlish voice at 10pm on Wednesday night. 'Can I talk to you for a bit?'
Seeing as he had already changed and was just about to jump into bed, he was understandably annoyed to be disturbed. He practically tried to take down the door when he roughly pulled it open.
'Make it quick,' he said harshly. 'And I'm not letting you in.'
'Right,' said Chelsea, sheepishly scratching the back of her head. 'Actually, I just wanted to uh... y'know, talk to you about Sabrina, because she, well –'
'Unless she's sick, we don't have anything to discuss,' he said, beginning to close the door.
'No, wait!' Chelsea pushed back on the door and Vaughn was surprised by her strength. 'She might as well be sick right now, you know! She's been really upset ever since you've stopped talking to her.'
'She'll get over it,' he said, irritated. 'And it's her dad you want to talk to about it, he's the one who's forbidden me to talk to her.'
'N-no way, if Sabrina can't change his mind, what chance do I have?'
Her expression became rather sad. 'You don't understand how important you are to her, do you? You've always been such a good friend to her, and ever since you've befriended her, you're all she's ever talked about. Even now...'
'Even now what?' he asked, despite himself, frowning.
'Even now it's "Vaughn did this" and "Vaughn did that" and "Vaughn and I used to" – Sabrina feels really deeply for you. Don't you return her feelings, if only a little bit?'
His knuckles whitened on the door. 'What are you talking about?' he demanded.
'C'mon, don't tell me you haven't noticed,' she said as if pleading.
Noticed what? Sabrina's adoring looks, her excessive fondness of his company and how she came at least once a week to give him gifts? Yes, he noticed. And yes, it was rather, well, flattering. What man wouldn't be flattered? But she couldn't waste over him. Why would she, anyway? Did she expect him to return her feelings? And even if he did return them, what could he give her? She had everything, money and security. He was just a poor farm boy.
'I guess I can't make you,' Chelsea sighed. 'But I can ask you to think about it. I know you like her, if only a little bit, because you like spending time with her. I can't say if you like-like her –' Vaughn hated the term 'like-like'. People should just say what was on their mind instead of sugar coating it by repeating themselves, '- but I hope you at least consider it.'
'It's not my fault!' he said as if in a last bid in his defence, and slammed the door shut.
Geez. At least if it had been Mark, he wouldn't be so reluctant to admit a point had been made.
He couldn't sleep anymore. He buried his head deep in his pillow but all he succeeded in doing was making himself breathless. Life had been so much easier back when there weren't any women to complicate matters with their precious feelings.
But it had been a lot less colourful then, too.
At least it was Mark who broke the camel's back and made him decided to do something about it. At least it wasn't... say... Julia.
'Hey Vaughn, can I talk to you?'
'If it's about me and Sabrina –' Vaughn began angrily.
'D-don't blow up on me! It is about Sabrina but you don't come in anywhere, sort of... so please calm down.'
'Fine,' he sighed. 'What is it?'
'Actually, it worries me too,' said Mark laying down on the sandy seashore, looking up at the white clouds. 'If I hadn't come in time, Regis mightn't have backed down. It's obvious that he loves Sabrina, but he's too harsh on her a lot of the time.'
'I know that,' huffed Vaughn, sitting down next to the farmer.
'Well you know what happened just now?'
'No, or I wouldn't be talking to you.'
'Gee, don't be so short all the time, Vaughn. You'll get old – haha, just kidding, I swear!' he said hastily when Vaughn roughly pulled his cap down over his eyes. Pushing it back up, he went on 'I overheard Regis trying to force Sabrina into an arranged marriage a minute ago.'
'Yeah,' said Mark seriously. 'Sabrina kept saying she wouldn't but he kept on pushing her, "for the good of the company". Then I stepped in and told him to lay it off –'
'Heh. Wouldn't have expected it of you.'
'Right?' Mark chuckled weakly. 'Kinda scares me just thinking about it. But you would have done the same thing for anybody if they'd had that look on their face!'
'Except that I don't sit at doors and eavesdrop.'
'You sure are feeling out of it, Vaughn,' he remarked casually. 'Anyway, after I'd said my bit – and you're not gonna believe this – Sabrina lost her temper at him. She said "You're always thinking about the company! That's why Mother left you!"'
'She's probably right,' said Vaughn, trying to restrain the impressed note from his voice. 'He's lucky he even has Sabrina.'
'I guess you could say that. Of course, that threw Regis off. He ended up pretty remorseful, that he was only thinking of himself.'
'So in the end, you weren't really needed after all.'
'Oh well, I was some kind of help.'
They both fell silent, each buried in their own thoughts. Vaughn was feeling concerned about Sabrina. The fact that Regis was willing to push his own daughter into something as serious as a marriage without her consent just went to show how selfish and shallow he could be. It was perfectly in-character for him. Perhaps he'd backed down now, but what if he decided he was desperate?
'But you know,' Mark began again. Vaughn turned to him. 'She might have talked him out of it now, but I wonder if Regis might get the guy he wanted to set her up with here, make them get to know each other and hope they'll fall in love. I wonder if he might do that.'
This hadn't occurred to Vaughn. Suddenly, his heart was beating very fast. He couldn't imagine it happening – but what if it did? He didn't think it was beyond Regis, and Sabrina was so sweet and compassionate, she would trust her heart to anyone who was kind to her. He'd seen it himself, how her gratitude brought her out of her way to find the good in himself that he hadn't wanted to know existed.
'Where are you going?' asked Mark when he stood up abruptly.
'To get on with my walk,' he answered through gritted teeth. Pulling his hat down firmly on his head, he marched away.
He did not know where he was going, but his mind was buzzing. There was a very uneasy feeling in his stomach, and Mark's words kept ringing in his ears. '...hope they'll fall in love,' he had said. Vaughn clenched his fist tightly. Why was he thinking this? Why did it matter? She was supposed to get over him, she needed to find somebody else to heap her emotions on, and this was the perfect chance.
The summer heat was killing him, making it hard to focus, but he knew this path would be deserted at this time seeing as it was in the direct heat. Unable to take it anymore, he began to walk to the cool shade of some trees when a rustle up ahead startled him. Looking up, he was surprised further when he caught sight of the object of his thoughts.
At the sound of his approaching footsteps, Sabrina had turned around, and now she watched him with wide eyes, uncertain of how to react to his sudden presence. They stared at each other for a while until Vaughn realised something was crumbling within him at the sight of her, and he forced himself to speak.
'Hey. Long time no see,' he said. He was surprised by how unconcerned his tone of voice sounded, seeing as his stomach was in knots. 'Can we talk?'
'Y-yes,' she faltered, half-fearfully.
Inhaling deeply, he began 'We haven't been talking since that day at your father's house. I swore not to speak to you again, but...' His words were like thick syrup in his throat. He ended up looking away awkwardly before continuing. 'But I keep remembering that day you almost passed out. It keeps coming back to me. I can't get you out of my head...' No matter how hard he tried to deny it. It was so easy to be honest with her standing in front of him.
'M-me too...!' she burst out, and he only dared sneak a peek at her anguished face, no more. 'I-I've been so sad you haven't been speaking to me...' she sighed in a melancholy manner. 'I've missed you, Vaughn.'
Her words were deeply touching, and he felt inclined to be equally honest with her. His emotions were a rollercoaster of confusion within him, and he suddenly realised why he couldn't be without her. It was so stupid, the answer had been staring him in the face for so long, yet he'd ignored it in favour of the familiarity of his own loneliness.
'Your father said I was with you for your money, but I...' The words stuck in his throat. 'I...'
'I know you're not that kind of person, Vaughn!' she said passionately. He looked around at her. Had it been he who had aroused such emotion in the quiet, shy, Sabrina? She smiled as she said 'Please don't worry about it. Let's just ask my father to listen to us again... I'm sure he will this time.'
'Sabrina...' He looked into her grey eyes looking back at him tenderly. Then he smiled. 'Right. Let's go.'
He hesitated for a split second before offering his hand. She was surprised, but then she went up to him, placed her hand in his, and they walked off together. Her hand was warm, but the addition to the heat didn't bother him.
Finding home didn't feel quite as bad as he was afraid it might.