Love Never Fails
by Ms Puddle
Disclaimer: Candy Candy and all characters belong to Kyoko Mizuki, images to Yumiko Igarashi and anime to Toei Animation.
In Candy Candy, I believe Albert and Candy are meant for each other. Unfortunately, Albert had been suppressing his true feelings to Candy, who seemed to long for Terry still. Yet I think after Albert's disappearance, Candy finally realized to whom her heart belonged and she missed him terribly. To be honest I am frustrated with the open ending in Candy Candy, so I twisted the plot in this fanfiction, mainly based on the manga version. What if Candy knew earlier about Albert's feelings to her were way stronger than being just a protective brother? And what if Albert recovered from amnesia later?
The title of my story is taken from the Bible on the excellence of love:
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8 Love never fails.
1 Corinthians 13 (NIV)
Please bear in mind English is not my mother tongue, so I'm grateful to have two beta readers to help me get started. I welcome any feedback (positive ones or constructive criticism, unless it's provocative). Thank you very much for your interest! I hope you enjoy reading as much as I enjoy writing!
Chapter 1: Farewell
As the sun sank below the horizon, Albert was on the way home from work. When he got near, he was pleasantly surprised to see Archie and the others were already waiting for him outside the apartment building.
"You guys are earlier than expected!" Albert remarked with a big smile on his face, clearly glad to see them. He then raked his fingers through his wavy hair and uttered, "You don't have to come, you know. I actually can take care of myself…"
Before Albert finished talking, Archie remarked, "Nice haircut, Albert! It suits you!"
Archie was often observant, and so was his girlfriend. "Yes, it's nice!" Annie chimed in cheerily. She found that Albert appeared younger with shorter hair.
"Ah thanks! I did that myself," Albert responded, rubbing his nape as if he was still getting used to his short hair. Just then, Annie added, "Remember we have promised to come every day while Candy is away to Broadway?"
Albert nodded with a smile then said, "Thanks for coming! I appreciate it."
"You're very welcome!" said Stear, even his eyes were smiling. "Of course, we know you can take care of yourself, and you actually cook for Candy every day!"
They burst out laughing. A moment later, Stear appended, "Seriously, we are friends, aren't we? Don't you want us to keep you company? Isn't it a bit too quiet without Candy's excessive chatting?"
Albert nodded without a word, the corners of his lips curling up into a tender smile. Yes indeed... it's very quiet without her around.
"Yes, and you're like a big brother to all of us," agreed Archie. "After all, we should keep our promise so that Candy can have peace of mind."
As Archie spoke, his brother and the girls began unloading the groceries from the car. Then Albert offered to help, "Ladies, please let me take all these."
It wasn't the first time this group of friends had had dinner together, and they never ran out of topics. When Albert related to them that Candy, being a sleepyhead, had been in such a rush to catch the first train today, Stear pushed his spectacles back up his nose and uttered, "Guess what? I went to see her off this morning."
"Did you really?" Albert responded with a bright look on his face. "How nice of you!"
Stear cast him a smile. "She was so looking forward to the trip, and I wished her all the best for her future with Terry. You know, Candy has had many ups and downs since we met her, and she certainly deserves happiness now."
"That's right!" Albert agreed in a firm tone. "I wanted to see her off too, but she didn't let me. She was afraid that I would catch a cold or something. Sometimes I find her a bit over protective…"
As his voice faded into a sigh, his friends laughed, knowing how Candy could act like a big sister to all of them from time to time. Little did they know the real reason why Albert had wanted to see her off.
When their laughter subsided, Albert commented, his brows gathering into a serious frown, "Now that you mentioned it, Candy seldom talked about her past miseries… I mean she did give me the overall picture, but whenever I dig deeper into her past, she'd rather focus on her love stories."
The brothers were taken aback, especially the younger one. He could only stare blankly at Albert, unable to believe that Candy had told Albert about her past loves, which were mostly about tears and heartbreaks. When Archie began wondering how much Albert had already known, he heard his brother's voice, "Talking about her love, Albert, you know what? It's a pity you have never met our cousin Anthony, Candy's first crush."
Stear had composed himself by now and could say that with ease. He figured even if Albert knew everything there was nothing to hide. Stear had long accepted that Candy had only regarded him as a good friend, and he had moved on with Patty already.
"No, Stear, Candy's first love was another guy, I believe," corrected Albert.
"Is that true?" Archie exclaimed, visibly surprised, but a few seconds later he recalled, "Oh now I remember… Anthony mentioned something like that to me. Not long after she had got adopted by Uncle William, Anthony said to me that Candy had met another fellow who had looked a lot like Anthony."
Having said that, Archie steered the topic slightly, somewhat worried that Albert would talk about his crush on Candy, "Speaking of resemblance, Albert, you do look like a grown up version of Anthony now that you have shorter hair! Although your hair is wavier, it looks like you have similar hair color, and I believe you've got the same shade of blue as his eyes. Not to mention that you always wear a gentle smile on your lips."
"Hmmm… I think you're quite right, Archie," agreed Annie, studying Albert's features. "Though I didn't get to know Anthony well…"
"Interesting then…" murmured Albert introspectively. "Does it mean I also look like Candy's first crush?"
Albert then pretended to look charming, and his sense of humor only made everybody around him laugh harder. When the laughter dwindled, the genius inventor in their midst raised his voice, suddenly looking very solemn, "Albert, I think I know why Candy rarely talks about her pain in the past."
His seriousness caused the others to hold their breath for an instant, and Stear explained, "Candy is a kind-hearted girl and often ready to forgive."
Then Stear went on relating to them how badly the Leagans had treated Candy, making her a child slave, and how their spoiled children, Neil and Eliza, had added more miseries to her life by framing her as a thief, an accusation which had been readily believed due to her coming from the orphanage.
Hearing about Candy's painful childhood, Patty blinked back the tears that threatened to fall down her cheeks. She didn't know much because she had first met Candy as the rich girl who had resided in the luxurious room. Later, she had been informed that Candy was an orphan who used to work at the Leagans, but Candy had always appeared strong and remained optimistic.
On the other hand, Annie felt uneasy, remembering those days when she couldn't admit her own past and how shocked she had been when Candy as a servant girl had led a horse to her. Presently, Archie wrapped his arm around her shoulder and said, "On the day Annie came to visit us in the mansion, Candy was somehow involved in a fight with Neil, which ended up hurting Anthony. Candy, probably feeling ashamed or something, ran away and disappeared."
The Cornwell brothers vividly remembered that awful night when none of them could fall asleep. "We were so worried about her, wondering her whereabouts. That night, each of us sneaked out in secret, searching for her along the riverbank. Then we happened to run into one another, and we found that Anthony had injured himself in the process," Archie continued with a sigh.
"We kept looking for her everywhere, hoping that she hadn't gone too far. We knew the river led to a huge waterfall, but we didn't dare to even think about it," Stear described in a grave tone. Then he queried, "Albert, Candy must have told you that you were the one who saved her from the waterfall, right?"
"Yes," admitted Albert, hearing all this pained him tremendously. He was aware of Candy's past hardships, but she had glossed over some details. Yet, even the Cornwell brothers were clueless that Neil's mischief had been the main reason why Candy had upset Anthony, and she had ended up alone by herself, going down that river not knowing the danger ahead.
Albert continued to recount in a pensive tone, "She was sleeping on a small boat, and when she woke up later, she couldn't do anything other than watching the boat crash into a boulder or something near the waterfall. As a result, she got thrown into the rapids and lost her consciousness after that… but needless to say, I don't remember why I was there in the first place."
Archie nodded at him and added, "But when she miraculously came back to us alive, we couldn't be happier! Later, we were told that the Leagans had fired her, so we tried to help her by asking our Great Aunt Elroy to adopt her."
"Unfortunately, she could only accept Candy as a servant in the household," Stear continued. "So it turned out that all three of us wrote individual letters to Uncle William with the same goal in mind, begging him to adopt Candy."
"So that's what happened!" said Patty, her eyes brightened. Annie then joined in, "Your Uncle William was very generous to Candy, and he got her the best room in the dormitory back in London!"
Albert nodded in acknowledgement. "Even though Candy hasn't met her adoptive father at all, and he never replies to any of her letters, Candy is more than grateful to his kindness. Yet, she hasn't said much about Uncle William."
Albert said that because he wanted to know more about Candy, now the dearest person in his life. Perhaps the Cornwell brothers could fill in the blanks. However, Stear shrugged his shoulders in resignation. "Albert, Candy doesn't have anything else to say because none of us has met Uncle William in person either," answered Stear in a level tone, but then he continued to convey his significance. "But for sure Uncle William has absolute authority in our family, and he granted our wishes by sending George, his trusted personal assistant, to rescue Candy on her way to Mexico, and even Great Aunt Elroy had to give in to his will."
While the talkative brothers were reminiscing, the more Albert heard about what had happened to Candy, the more he missed her. By now Candy should have reunited with her love in New York. All of a sudden, neither Stear nor Archie felt like continuing the tale. At this moment, Albert understood their hesitance to talk about their late cousin, and he recalled how hot tears had streamed down Candy's cheeks the first time she had mentioned the fatal accident following her adoption. She is still taking the blame for Anthony's death, poor Candy…
So Albert kindly stated, "Candy has already told me about the fox hunting, and why she decided to leave Lakewood after that."
The brothers sighed one after the other, and a moment later Archie said wistfully, "Stear and I wanted to find her, but Uncle William determined to send all of us to London, and many things have happened since."
Then they fell into silence as though they wanted to finish their plates. It was Patty who broke the silence some time later, "Albert, did you know that when we first met you at the zoo, you knew all our names as if you had met us before?"
"Yes! That was amazing!" Archie added, a charming smile adorning his lips. "Besides, you looked like a totally different man. You had long brown hair with dark sunglasses, but the same cheerful disposition nonetheless."
"At any rate, we were all curious to meet the bearded guy who had courageously saved Candy from the waterfall," continued Stear. "Oh well, I guess it's useless to ask if you were wearing disguise then… as if to hide your handsome face."
When Stear finished with a sheepish laugh, Archie scowled at his brother, remembering his comment when they had first seen Albert unconscious in that miserable Room 0, "Stear!"
Then they relayed to Albert what had taken place when they had stepped into that musty room in the hospital. Albert was quite amused to hear all about himself without remembering any of it as if they were talking about someone else. He used to be quite frustrated about this, but now he was slowly accepting the reality. He was indeed grateful to Candy, who kept on cheering for him. Just then, Patty asked with curiosity, "So Albert, did Candy tell you a lot about her life in London?"
"Yes… lots and lots," said Albert after swallowing his food and wiping his mouth with a napkin. "I know how kind you all were to her then."
Annie's countenance suddenly darkened. She hadn't been very kind to Candy initially, and she recalled how devastated she had been when fellow students from some wealthy families had discovered her lowly origin. How could she forget that horrible, rainy night when she had to hide from everyone? At this instant, Patty's grateful voice cut into her thoughts, "Albert, I just want to thank you once again for taking care of my dear turtle in the zoo. You don't know how much that meant to me!"
"Don't mention it, Patty," he responded with a half-smile. He had no idea what he had done to her turtle at all.
At present, Archie squeezed Annie's shoulder. When she looked up, he regarded her tenderly, giving her an understanding smile as if he could read her mind. When she managed a faint smile in response, he said to others, "By the way, the school was where Annie and I fell in love."
Annie didn't expect to hear that, and she couldn't help blushing. Then Albert followed up, "I know, Candy mentioned that to me before… of course, it was where she fell for Terry too. I guess those days could be the happiest in her life right?"
Strangely, none of them could really answer his question. They glanced at one another and then back at Albert, "To be honest, we didn't know how exactly they started. Candy did seem very happy when we were at Terry's place, trying to get an old plane to fly," said Stear. Then he dwelled on talking excitedly about the experience that day instead of Candy or Terry.
When Stear finally took a break, Albert brought the focus back to his nurse, "Candy did tell me how she had found her life's calling. Just like Terry who had pursued his own dream, she had wanted to find her path. Somehow she had figured it out on her way back to Pony's home."
Candy's friends described how shocked they had been when receiving a letter from Candy about her new life in America after her disappearance in London. After all that, Albert offered to wash the dishes, joking that it was now his expertise. When his friends stood up to help him out, Albert commented in a placid tone, "I think Candy is undoubtedly having a marvelous time with Terry now."
Annie responded while carrying the soiled plates to the kitchen, "I believe so too! I hope to hear some good news from her when she gets back."
"Yes she deserves to be happy," Patty agreed with her friends, walking towards the kitchen with a dreamy look on her face. It was when she returned from there she noticed that Stear, whom she thought was also helping, was standing by the window instead, still like a statue. She wanted to call his name but something in his expression, that absent look of his eyes stopped her. Besides, her natural shyness made her reluctant to probe him, lest she would disturb him. She thought perhaps he was reflecting over the past few years after some reminiscences tonight, so she decided to leave him alone and went to the table to pick up some more dishes.
When Annie and Archie were placing their load into the kitchen sink, Albert had already washed several plates, and Patty helped putting those clean ones back to the cupboard. Then Albert calmly remarked, "You guys do realize that Candy might not come back to Chicago at all, right?"
His statement had caught the three of them by surprise, so much so that they stopped whatever they were doing and responded with a unanimous "Why?" on their lips.
Albert quietly turned off the faucet and dried his hands, spinning around to face them with a knowing smile on his face. Even Stear had joined them, so Albert uttered in a matter-of-fact tone, "Terry gave Candy a one-way ticket to New York. I suppose that he wants her to stay in New York with him."
His reason sounded valid enough, and no one was able to come up with a counter-argument. After a brief moment of silence, Albert spoke up again trying to cheer up everybody, including himself, "Don't worry, you guys. You see I'm a big guy, and I actually don't need Candy to take care of me anymore."
When they exchanged glances with one another, Albert carried on in an earnest tone, "I'm already grateful for what Candy had done to me in the past few months. The same applies to all of you, and I don't know what would have happened to me without your friendship and support."
"Albert…" Archie began, wanting to say something, but he hesitated.
Albert then went on, "It's true that I don't remember my identity or anything about myself, but based on what Candy and you guys have told me, I used to be traveling a lot on my own anyway."
Though there was no self-pity in his voice, his friends were rendered speechless. Then Albert reassured, "I am no longer the sick guy in Room 0. Like you guys, I also want the best for Candy. What would make her happier now than getting closer to Terry and staying in New York?"
Albert sounded almost tender as if Candy was leading a contented life in New York already. When nobody had anything else to say, Albert turned around to continue washing the other dishes.
After some moments of awkward silence, Stear finally uttered in a despondent tone, knowing that he himself might not see Candy again, "Well, Candy has promised me that she would buy me some special souvenir as her way to thank me for seeing her off. I believe she will come back, Albert. I don't think she will just leave you like that. It's totally not like her."
Albert ceased his movement, tossing him an appreciative smile over his shoulder, but he didn't look convinced. Albert thought, no doubt I would love to continue living with Candy like this even if my memory never comes back...
When they were leaving the apartment, Stear was the last one out. He sincerely shook Albert's hands and thoughtfully said, "Goodbye Albert. I wish you the best of luck and that you will recover soon."
Albert was a little confused and kind of bothered by Stear's tone. "Why, Stear, this sounds like a farewell to me. I guess I will see you again tomorrow although you know you don't have to come?"
Stear opened his mouth for a moment, but no word came forth. Then he simply waved goodbye and left the apartment with his head held high. He had finally made up his mind after struggling for so long.
Revised: Jun 30, 2014