A/N: UPDATE! I'm ALIVE! Ok, I know my updates have been…lacking lately, and I'm super sorry. My writing in general has sort of hated me in recent weeks, and I'm working on the finale for Redamancy, which is taking an eternity and a half. I PROMISE you guys I won't abandon Redamancy without a finale, it's just gonna take some time. Anyway, enjoy this thing! THANKS!
It figured. It figured! I was just her luck to go through this with every single guy she met. If one wasn't an egotistical superhero, the next was a delusional construction worker with an alternate personality. On her next blind date, she was just going to run them through a mental hospital, it would only save her time.
Fuming, Lucy shoved and smacked people out of her roaring path in the crowd, looking for one victim and one victim only. If she hadn't known, Lucy would take some pleasure in telling her, if only to get some revenge. If she had known, well, Lucy was packing up and moving. Simple as that.
While the threat was, for the most part, hollow and shallow, a flicker went off, and Lucy's steps slowed beneath the moonlight.
Why was she staying in Syspocalypstar?
Her friends? Well, if Unikitty had known the whole time, then she had no best friend. If the rest of them knew, she had no friends. She had no boyfriend, she had no real connections to this place. Her memories of Emmet were gone. Whatever they were, no matter how little she cared for them now, she had lost a life, a life she would probably never get back. Maybe the only real course of action was to embrace it, to let everyone's memories drift off into the wind that would carry her to the next town over.
There, she could forget everything.
The revelation of leaving an entire life behind had brought Lucy's seething temperature back down to the October breeze, and she paced herself with the dismal, transparent clouds sliding by. Frost delicately coated the concrete in intricate patterns, reminding her of how freezing her hands were, and she shoved them in the warm caverns of her hoodie.
How long she had walked through the rapturous crowd hollering 'Ghostbusters!' every five seconds was a question Lucy didn't need to find out.
The next time she lifted her weary, bitter gaze, the house perched in her view. Home.
That tone. That tone, that blunt, cruel, whiplash tone didn't match the sugary voice, and that sent a fire burning down Lucy's spine.
"What?" Spinning around, Unikitty, no longer in costume, glared with a scalding hatred that momentarily softened Lucy's nearly-frozen over emotions.
"What did you do to Emmet?!"
Of everything she could have heard, of nearly every question Unikitty could have asked her, that's what she said? She had to assume Unikitty had known the whole time. Unikitty wasn't dumb. Annoying, chipper, and a pain in Lucy's back at the moment, but not stupid. "What did I do? Unikitty, he adopted a fake personality so I would date him! That's insane!" Her words were almost a plea, a desperate beg for someone to understand, for someone to be on her side for once in this war.
"And you slapped him?" They were face-to-face, both in a pool of pure hatred and no longer fighting it. "Emmet's sobbing right now, he's a total mess!"
"Emmet, Emmet, Emmet." She said it like it was a curse word, and in her mind, in that moment, it was. "It's always about him! He lies, acts like a total jerk, and makes everything a mess, yet somehow it's my fault!"
Unikitty's glare softened, but not because she agreed. Not even close. Lucy froze.
Unikitty pitied her.
"You really don't get it, do you?" A gentle glare crossed her face. Unikitty couldn't get mad at those that didn't understand.
No. She wouldn't think about how she was losing her best friend, inch-by-inch, how for the first time in her life, Unikitty truly hated someone, and it was her best friend that she still loved. This wasn't a love-hate relationship, but it wasn't purely love. And that wasn't Unikitty.
What had the last months done to her?
"Emmet loved you. I can say it every day as long as we both live, but you may never understand it." Her throat, once scalding with frozen revenge, collided into a gentle hum. Her heartbeat no longer whirred in her ears, and she could finally hear Lucy's hollering pulse. "When he woke up, everything he had based his life around was gone, and you never once wanted to accept any responsibility. You acted like he was a boyfriend from first grade who had just taken everything too seriously."
The defenses were back. "I didn't ask to lose my memory!"
"There's a thing called kindness, Wyldstyle." Did she sound that way? Was this her own voice, so sarcastic and honest, coming out of her won mouth? Unikitty kept talking to distract and test it, even as her blood cringed. "No one asked you to marry him. We asked you to not treat him like dirt."
A rebuttal rose in her throat, but the image of her slapping Emmet blocked it. Unikitty had the upper-hand for once in their friendship, and Lucy had no choice but to take it.
"So what do you want me to do, Unikitty? Go up and tell him I love him?"
Unikitty shrugged quivering shoulders. "I'm not saying to do anything. I'm just saying that the next time you feel like you have no friends, remember me and Emmet."
With that, the crowd swallowed Unikitty up, and Lucy had never felt so alone beneath the dim moonlight.
'Emmet crying' wasn't exactly a new concept for Benny, Sweet, and Unikitty. While it took a lot to break him, while not many things crashed through the barrier, and while he usually handled it before he cried, if something did make him cry, the whole world would know it within the hour.
Squeezing his shoulders again, Sweet offered a warm smile. "Emmet, it's going to be ok, you just have to let Wyldstyle cool off a little bit." Benny, sitting on the other side of the huddled, tearful mass that was their best friend, tried to hide his doubting look. Sweet rolled her eyes. This was not the time for pessimism.
"I-I can't…I c-can't believe I…I did that." The meager, broken sentence was all Emmet could manage before a wracking sob grabbed hold of his spine again and pinched his throat until nothing but wisps of air could escape.
In a moment of raw panic and sisterly instinct, Sweet grabbed Emmet into her arms, hugging him tightly as Benny rubbed his back. She caught sight of Unikitty walking over, first the brief flash of something that Sweet had to assume was defensive protection, then melting concern over Emmet.
They could wait.
As soon as she was within distance, Unikitty mouthed, "He's not good, is he?"
Benny shook his head, resting against Emmet, back to back, like two boys in fifth grade.
Unikitty curled up at Emmet's feet. Her head lay against his ankle, and she let her eyes fall shut as the wind drowned out Emmet's sobs. After a moment, by the time they had all feigned sleep to satisfy their emotional exhaustion, all Unikitty could hear was the Emmet sniffling and holding back a harder onslaught of tears, Sweet's whispering words, and Benny scratching the bench with the hand that wasn't gripping Emmet's.
Was this what is would be?
Without Lucy, was this destined to be the new 'inner circle'?
Lucy losing her memory had brought too many changes, too many shifts in their hierarchy, and too many new things Unikitty wasn't ready to handle.
Emmet, Unikitty, Sweet, and Benny.
Emmet, Sweet, Benny, and Unikitty.
Sweet, Benny, Emmet, and Unikitty.
There was something wrong with every combination.
Unikitty lifted her hundred-pound gaze, rolled onto her back, and looked up at the three people she may have been destined to fill Lucy's hole with.
Benny. She liked Benny a lot – she loved every one of her friends. He was a bit jittery, a little one-dimensional until you got to know him, but wouldn't hurt a fly. He was like Emmet without the experience he had gotten being front-and –center saving the world, plus too much sugar. Come to think of it… so was she.
Sweet. A complicated relationship, she loved Sweet like a sister, and often thought of her, for better or for worse, as a younger sibling. Sometimes it seemed like Sweet wanted to do everything Unikitty did, and fill the role Unikitty had filled for the past seven years. Maybe that's because they were so similar. Either way, Sweet was kind, had a good heart, and (for the most part) knew when not to overstep her bounds. Definitely not a Lucy, but not a horrid replacement either.
Emmet? Well, she knew who he was. He was her column, her one pillar that hadn't fallen in recent months, the one person who remotely felt like she did. He was sweet, kind, and her best friend in the whole world. Just the thought made her chest loosen and her paws tighten around his feet.
Lucy may not have forgotten her, but the distance and animosity between them now seemed to mirror Emmet's situation. On her vainer side, Unikitty didn't believe either of them deserved this. They were the kindest out of the whole group. Why did this have to strike them?
Sweet's voice reached down into the murky lake of Unikitty's introspection, a trap she was prone to fall into, and dragged the princes out onto dry land.
However, the question wasn't directed at her.
The feet Unikitty rested on shifted as Emmet pulled away from Sweet's embrace, and leaned heavier on Benny, as though they all had to take turns carrying his weight, emotional and physical. Would Unikitty be able to take it when it was her turn?
Shrugging, Emmet looked down at his best friend, and offered the weakest smile that, in his mind, seemed enormous for the situation. "Yeah, I th-think so. Thanks, guys."
"We're always here for you, Emmet," Benny reminded, elbowing his friend. Emmet grinned a bit brighter. As long as he didn't think of Lucy, his mood could just stand up, just bear the scalding, metal weights clinging to its wrists and ankles. He had to forget her. Like Lucy, he had to forget everything they had ever been.
"Unikitty?" It was more to distract himself than anything.
What had seemed like such a conquest, such a battle, such a bloody, knockout fight just yesterday had now fallen. The battle was lost. She had been knocked to and her opponent was dead. Not only was there no reason nor etiquette to gloat, but she was unconscious beyond repair.
Sighing and nestling her head back against Emmet's feet, Unikitty softly replied, "Don't be."
And that was it.
Who knew how long it had been, but when a call rung out through their quiet, isolated space, Benny was asleep, Unikitty snoozed on Emmet's feet, and Emmet and Sweet were playing twenty-questions with half their consciousness dreaming.
That voice woke everyone up.
Across the hardened grass, concrete pathway, and flickering memories of hours ago, Lucy stood, bloodied guilt splashed across her face and emotion seeping into her hands. Three glares met her, and the fourth gaze couldn't look anywhere but the moon.
Without looking at her, and while keeping as many thoughts about Lucy's presence outside the front of his mind, Emmet observed his friends.
Unikitty huffed, crossed her arms, and refused to speak.
Benny straightened his spine as though ready for battle.
Sweet shifted, linked her arm with his, and joined Unikitty's silent rage.
While he didn't believe Lucy was the enemy, even Emmet had to admit that it was nice to have friends backing you up like this.
"Okay, I realize that you all would like me blast off the earth in a Fourth-of-July spectacle right about now, but I need to talk to Emmet."
Emmet's chest tightened.
He was tired. Beaten down against a building, bleeding inside-and-out, and the thought of talking with the person who had done it all wasn't on his list of things to do to recover. His cheek still burned.
"No." The defiant, bubble-burst in Sweet's voice popped next to him, and Emmet bit down on a smile. He would never be alone.
They weren't Lucy.
No matter how hard they tried, no matter how much of their love he had, Lucy was his special best friend. The 'special' was in there for a reason, a reason he had never wanted to give up. And though he loved his friends – his family – with a strength he hadn't even known was possible some years ago, they weren't Lucy. And they never would heal that jagged scar she had left inside him.
"Guys…it's ok." The soft, kind tone, something like a gentle mentor, surprised even Emmet, who had expected to sound more like a burnt record. Even Lucy looked as though she had expected him to stand with his new bodyguards…or maybe that was just fear. The splotches of exhaustion and post-battle weakness had drained the part of him that cared.
A chorus of, "You sure?" and "We can stay," followed almost immediately, but Emmet waved them all off.
After some hesitation and a beady stare at Lucy, Unikitty shrugged, stood up, and motioned to Benny and Sweet. "Ok, but you get five minutes, alright?"
Nodding, Emmet gave Unikitty a small but purposeful smile, and she grinned warmly back. A thousand words, apologies, and thoughts ran between the two, desperate to catch up what had been lost and mend what had been broken.
Their relationship would never be 'perfect' again.
It would be better.
Emmet's trio of protection, as he would have liked to dub them, smiled gently and walked off, not sparing Lucy another glance. A pebble fell down his throat at the sight. What had become of all of them? Where they protected him, they hated her. This wouldn't fly.
I. Hate. This.
No, not apologizing. Yes, Lucy hated apologizing more than a poorly-built structure and a snotty date, but confusion? Confusion about who she was, what the world would be tomorrow, and why she still thought Emmet had a cute smile after everything? No, that was infinitely worse. She could handle physical nuances. The mental ones she couldn't explain plagued her until she couldn't walk.
"E-Emmet, look, this is going to be insanely awkward, but…"
"I forgive you."
She must have dropped her jaw to the core of the earth. "Huh?"
Smiling, smiling just as he had with his real, non-betraying friends, Emmet replied, "I know what you're going to say, and you don't have to."
But…no, wait – what?
This was the mental confusion that drove Lucy up a wall.
"How can you do that?" Her face was flushed like the fake blood smeared across the city. More aggression and aggravation drained from her face and seeped into her words than she had planned. "I slapped you, how can you just…forgive me like that? I've been a complete jerk to you for months!"
Months passed across Emmet's face, days skipped, and instances still shone out. With each one, his face reflected the memory: happy, petrified, hopeful, or depressed, and Lucy knew that she had somehow caused each and every one of them.
"If we can't forgive each other… then what's the point?"
Lucy was about to ask for clarification on his last statement, but at the last second, when she found that he feet and dragged her just a foot away from him and her heart was pumping so much blood that her face had no choice but to smile, she decided that she didn't need to.
"…and I'm sorry too. It was a really, really stupid thing for me to do, and Unikitty told me all the time not to do it, but I didn't listen." His head hung low, like a criminal about to be prosecuted, and Lucy's left arm grabbed her right wrist from offering any sort of comfort or touch.
Shrugging, Lucy replied, "Well, I guess I forgive you too, that makes us even, right?"
That stupid smile.
They were close.
Like, really close. And both smiling.
The sheepish, timid tone in his voice gave Lucy a feeling that she was sure was normal. It was probably just an after-thought, a miniscule, momentary emotion, nothing to concern herself over. That didn't mean she had to like it...
"Do you think… do you think we can be friends? Like, real friends?"
Lucy was reckless. She jumped in feet-first without looking and dove where they said no diving. She closed her eyes where one should look carefully and did whatever she could with one hand. Some thought these actions, physical and emotional, would get her killed one day, but she thought they made her life more alive.
This was a cliff-moment. Right before she would dive, shut her eyes, or let go, there was always a moment where she had to decide to do it. Everyone would shout and holler to just be safe, and she would ignore them, take a deep breath, and listen to her gut.
This was a cliff moment, but her gut wasn't saying anything.
"Lucy?" Emmet's breath hitched in his throat, and she could nearly see his heart punching for an escape.
Swiftly, and with the quickest decision-moment ever, Lucy grabbed Emmet's hand in his, inter-twined their fingers, and grinned. "Yeah, we can be friends."
Lucy changed her mind.
That smile was a lot better.