Author's Note: Thanks for taking an interest and clicking on this story. Reviews would be much appreciated. And please tell me if you see any mistakes, I tend to miss them a lot. Credit for the OC Fate goes to Ranranhinotori from Ushi no Tane. Enjoy.
Sometimes, when Fate was in that state where you weren't awake but not yet quite asleep, she would think of a strawberry-blonde woman who looked up from a field of growing crops and called out to her. Fate didn't know if she was a memory or just a dream, and she didn't feel comfortable asking her father. But if it was just a dream, it was a nice one. Fate's favourite dreams were of the strawberry-blonde woman. She would have liked her as a mother, she thought.
Her father had a great mistrust of society in general, which affected Fate, too. So it was very weird for her when he brought her out for lunch and introduced him to an old friend by the name of Sabrina.
Fate thought Sabrina was quite pretty, but Sabrina was so friendly, she felt she couldn't trust her. She didn't like people who were always friendly. In her opinion, they were only friendly because they wanted to get something from you.
Understandably, she was shocked when her father said 'Be nice, Fate.'
'Be nice'? Since when had she ever to be nice? Her father had never asked that of her before. But instead of making her warm up to Sabrina, she only frowned more severely at her.
'Your daughter looks like you, Vaughn,' Sabrina said smilingly. 'And she acts like you, too. She doesn't seem to like me, she's glaring at me.' Sabrina was looking at her as if she was really trying to sympathise with her, but Fate wasn't going to fall for it.
'She isn't like me if she doesn't like you,' said Vaughn, looking at Fate in a way that clearly said 'I'm expecting you to behave.' She felt a little hurt that he was putting this strange woman before her.
'Don't be so harsh on her, Vaughn,' said Sabrina. 'I understand how she feels. She's grown up without her mother after all.'
'Yeah,' said Vaughn shortly, and Fate knew it was because he didn't like to discuss her mother. He quickly changed the topic instead. 'How'd you get your father to let you work in city?'
'Oh I left him a note and ran off in the middle of the night,' she said off-handedly.
'Don't you believe me, Vaughn? He replied later with a stern letter about not doing irrational things and that I should go home immediately. I wrote back, and he ended up saying that if I ever ran into any trouble, I was to come straight home. Of course I've had my fair share of troubles but I haven't regretted it. Yet.'
'Where do you work now?'
'I'm the bookkeeper for a grocery chain. It's a good job. I have lots of friends there.'
He hesitated before asking 'Do you have a family now?'
Fate had to wonder why he had paused. Was it a sensitive subject with Sabrina as it was with him, or was he simply unsure of how to phrase the question?
Sabrina turned quite pink when she was prompted, and Fate wanted to laugh. The colour of her face matched her cardigan now.
'N-no. I haven't ment anybody who - who I'm interested in. I'd rather concentrate on my job right now, I think.'
'That's good,' Vaughn said, looking away. 'A romance can't make up for what your career can bring.'
'Vaughn, don't say that,' Sabrina reproached. 'Love can bring all sorts of new colours to life. Personally, I -' and she blushed even harder, '- I'd like to find somebody who I c-could spend the rest of my life with. I just... haven't had the luck to meet him y-yet.'
He turned to study her face and her eyes dropped to the plate of food in front of her. Fate scowled. She was beginning to feel threatened by Sabrina. Her father seemed so interested in her.
'So you don't have a boyfriend yet either? Ever been asked?'
'Y-yes, I have. But none of them were ever m-more than friends to me, so I - I rejected them.'
'That's good. Don't get into a relationship that has a maybe.'
They lapsed into silence for a while. Fate munched on her fries, glaring severely at Sabrina. Maybe this woman was being friendly with her dad because she wanted to fill in the void left by Fate's mother. There had been women who had approached her father, and he had rejected them all, but he was so friendly with this woman! Why? What was their past together?
It suddenly occurred to her that Sabrina might be her mother, but Fate just as quickly brushed the idea off. Her father hated the very mention of a mother to Fate, he wouldn't act so friendly to her if they met. And besides, he probably wouldn't enter a relationship anytime soon, either. Taking care of just one girl was enough for him, he had said once.
'So what have you and Fate been doing?' said Sabrina, finally breaking the silence.
'The usual,' Vaughn shrugged. 'You know me, I never stay in one place for long. I always meant to leave Sunny Island eventually. Chelsea was just... an unexpexted roadblock that went away by itself in the end anyway.'
Fate started. Who was Chelsea? She had never heard her father talk about anybody named Chelsea before.
'Is that so?' Sabrina murmured. 'That's sad. Even before you and Chelsea got together, I always hoped you had begun to see Sunny Island as home. You were there for quite a while after all.'
'I guess I was,' he replied, as the words 'even before you got together' rung in Fate's head. 'Time flies.' He shrugged. 'I might have felt a little guilty about moving away before because of Mark. Who'd take care of him if I left?'
'Oh Vaughn!' cried Sabrina, laughing. 'Mark would try to beat you up for that!'
'He wouldn't dare to,' Vaughn smirked, leaning back in his chair with arms crossed, looking very smug.
It was a rare sight to see her father enjoying himself so thoroughly, Fate thought. He smiled when he brought her out on trips, or went riding with her, but to see him joking so freely was...
That night, as they were resting at the inn, she made a resolution to ask her father for an explanation for everything he had just conversed about with Sabrina. She wasn't too scared of his reaction, despite the couple of times he scolded her for 'asking grown-up questions'. If he could tell a stranger, then he could tell her.
'She is not a stranger,' Vaughn said when she said this aloud. 'She's an old friend. I've known her longer than I've known your mother.'
Mentioning her mother was a first. This day was just full of otherworldly surprises.
'It was a coincidence I met her,' he went on. 'We just bumped into each other while I was out.'
'How did you get to know her in the first place?' she asked. They were both sitting on the bed, and she crept closer to him, all ears. 'Is she a friend of my mom, too?'
Vaughn fixed her with a long stare before saying 'Yes. I've known her for as long as I've known you, plus five years.'
'So that's...' She quietly counted under her breath, 'twelve years. That's a long time. Did you know my mother for that long too?'
'You're asking all the wrong questions,' he sighed, falling back onto his pillows.
'No!' she lay down beside him, on her side so she could look at him. 'Dad, I think I'm old enough for this now! I'm not a little girl anymore.'
'Say that again when you're fourteen,' he said, tweaking her nose and making her laugh. 'Fine. I'll tell you some things. I knew Sabrina for a year longer than I knew your mother.'
'Was her name...' It was a risky question, but today was a day for the unexpected; 'Chelsea? Is that who you were talking about?'
'I was hoping we could avoid this,' he said with a slight frown.
'Well you can't,' she said boldly. She felt relieved when he smiled.
'Yeah. Her name was Chelsea.'
'And was she a farmer with strawberry blonde hair, blue eyes and a red bandana?'
He abruptly sat up and stared at her. 'How do you know that?' he demanded.
'I always dream of her,' Fate said as calmly as possible. 'It's nothing much, just her calling out to me, usually from a field of crops or something. You don't believe me,' she added when he continued staring.
'I do,' he said, finally laying back down. 'It's just weird you'd dream that. You were really small when...'
'What happened to her?'
'I can't tell you that yet.'
'You wouldn't undersatnd.'
'When you're older.'
'I hate that phrase,' she mumbled.
'Don't we all.'
'Okay, fine. Where'd you guys first meet?'
'I used to work on a place called Sunny Island.'
'An old friend.'
'Never heard of him.'
'I haven't talked to him in almost eight years.'
'Dad, that's cheap.'
Fate sighed and crawled underneath the covers. Despite all the thinking she wanted to do, she was asleep in five minutes.