A/N: Welcome to my second Rune Factory story!
Ok, so honestly, guys, who doesn't think Joe and Sierra would make the best couple ever? They'd be perfect! Ug, Tides of Destiny, Y U NO have rival marriages? That's what this story's about. Please excuse the fluff and predictable outcome. It's a one-shot, guys, it's the best I can do.
This story does not contain any plot spoilers in the game.
Disclaimer: I do not own Rune Factory: Tides of Destiny. Because if I did, these two would definitely be a couple…
~Fear of an Abstract~
Sometimes Sierra had trouble admitting things to herself.
She didn't like to admit that she needed Bismark's help when she wasn't sure how much a product at the general store cost. She didn't like to admit she sometimes felt a small amount of guilt after finding out there was no one to man the store when she was slacking off. She didn't like to admit that there might be an adventure she couldn't face, or there might be something she was afraid of out there in the big, bad world.
She also didn't like to admit that she had a crush on her friend since childhood, Joe.
But for now, that's not the main focus of this story. The main focus is the second to last thing Sierra doesn't like to admit to herself.
To Joe, Sierra had always just been one of the guys. Towards other girls, Joe was flirty or awkward or perverted, or all three. But not to Sierra. They liked to jump off cliffs and into the ocean together, or play pranks on the other islanders, or have mud fights. They had been friends since the beginning, and friends through it all: Sierra's parents leaving, Joe's dad dying, and now the arrival of a strange boy with a girl trapped inside his body, who just happened to posses a sprout golem. Yes, they had seen it all together.
They were young adults, now, but still just as child-like as always, as Bismark would often say. Today they were down by the docks; Sierra would jump over and over again into the water, while Joe would cast his fishing line and try to catch her. He had made a point to dull the hook so it wouldn't hurt the redheaded girl, but it didn't matter, since he wasn't having much luck. Sierra stuck her tongue out at him playfully from the water, and Joe scowled.
"Fine, fine, you win," he growled, waving his hand around as if to dismiss this event's importance. Sierra let out a 'WHOOP!' and climbed back onto the docks, her clothes sopping wet and a smile on her face.
"I told you you couldn't catch me!" she chimed, clapping her hands in the air the way she did whenever she was happy.
"Fine, but now it's my turn to pick something to do," Joe said, still scowling at his loss. Even though it was a Monday, Sierra had snuck out of work today, and now the two were running out of ideas for fun. They had already scared Bismark twice today, stole Bacchus' last bottle of beer, and went rooftop jumping on De Sainte-Coquille Lane. They were quickly running low on ideas.
Joe thought for a while, staring out at the horizon line. Then his tan face suddenly lit up. "Hey, Sierra?"
"What's up?" She arched an eyebrow at her friend.
"Didn't I hear you say that you weren't afraid of anything?" Joe asked her slyly, a devious look on his face.
Sierra sat up a little straighter, looking proud. "That's right! Nothing can faze me!"
Joe jumped up suddenly, throwing a fist into the air. "We'll see about that! Sierra, I bet that by the time the sun sets, I can find something that scares you!"
Sierra snorted. "Yeah, right. Good luck with that."
"You'll see, I can do it! It's only noon, so I have five hours! Here are the rules: you can't avoid me on purpose, you can't hide your fear, and…" Joe trailed off, gears whirring away inside his thick head, "and some other third thing! Now, shake on it." He spat into his hand and held it out to the girl. Sierra did the same and they shook.
A few minutes later, Sierra was walking back to the general store by herself, smirking. There was no way Joe would win this one.
It was quickly nearing 5 o'clock, and Joe still had not had success. He found snakes and put them in her cup of water, had lured her into the cave by the beach and paid some people to jump out at her, and even dressed up like a ghost and made weird noises from the backroom of the general store. He tried fish, spiders, flowers, shampoo, even potatoes, but she responded to none of it. Actually, she was rather fond of the spiders…
Sierra laughed to herself lightly, sitting on the general store's counter and not thinking about work in the least bit. Joe didn't stand a chance; she feared nothing.
At 4:55 exactly, Joe came into the store, looking surprisingly calm for someone who was about to lose their game. Sierra greeted him with a cheesy smile. "Hey, got any more of those snakes to put in my drink? They were delicious."
He shrugged vaguely, making Sierra tense up. What's he planning this time?
"Well, Sierra, you aren't afraid of anything that normal people are afraid of," Joe started, looking strangely devious. "So, I figured I tried a new approach."
"Go for it. Amuse me," Sierra chimed back, sliding off the counter and onto her feet in front of the young man.
"Alright, if you insist…" Joe started, and before Sierra knew what was happening, she was grabbed around the waist and pulled close to Joe. Before she could cry out, his lips were pressed against hers.
Sierra would have none of that. She brought her leg up and kicked Joe in the shin. He instantly let go of her, his lips detaching from hers, and then she punched him square in the face. He fell back, clutching his nose.
"What the hell was that, you moron?" Sierra yelled at him, stamping her foot. "Joe, you're such an idiot! I hate you!" And she stormed out of her own store before Joe could gather up the million pieces he was shattered into.
Sierra stormed off to the inn, where she ordered some grilled Char and sat down angrily to eat it. Who does he think he is? she thought angrily. Going around kissing his childhood friends! She angrily slurped down a glass of water.
She didn't like to admit that she may have overreacted.
She didn't like to admit that she may have actually maybe enjoyed that a tiny bit.
Because she shouldn't feel bad, because she was mad at Joe. Mad at him for being such a… such a… sissy!
She finished her food without tasting it, didn't bother saying goodbye to anyone, and walked back across the street to the store. She didn't even bother checking if Joe was still there; she climbed the stairs to her room and slammed the door behind her.
Sierra lay in bed for a while, trying to think about anything but the hotheaded adventurer that wouldn't leave her mind. She finally drifted off into a sleep without dreams.
When Sierra woke up to Bismark yelling at her the next morning at 7, she momentarily forgot why her stomach felt so heavy. Then she remembered, and her eyes narrowed in disgust. She sat up slowly and glanced at the calendar next to her bed. It was Tuesday. Joe would be out all day at sea, most likely with Bacchus. Perfect, she thought, I don't have to deal with him for another twelve hours.
She stretched, and then skipped down the steps and into the store, where Bismark was already getting ready for opening it up.
"Mornin'" Sierra yawned, acting as if she wasn't being eaten away by some monster on the inside. "I'm going outside to sweep."
"Alright, Sierra," Bismark replied in his quiet voice.
Sierra didn't take the broom with her.
She went right to the beach, and when she got there she plopped down onto the sand and stared out at the vast ocean. She caught herself wondering where Joe could be today, but then shook the thought out of her head. She wouldn't let this ruin her. She'd have a fun day by herself.
It hadn't been a fun day. In fact, it had been a very boring day. The sun had set and Sierra had barely gotten anything done, besides working, but who wants to do that?
When the clock struck seven, Sierra couldn't help herself; curiosity got the better of her and she snuck down to the docks, wondering if Joe and Bacchus' ship was back yet. She didn't know whether to feel relieved or annoyed when she saw that it was.
Bacchus was walking towards her, probably on his way to the inn to get drunk like he always did. Joe's grandfather was large and rough-looking, but Sierra had known him since she was a kid, so she didn't even bother thinking about it as she ran up to him and greeted him loudly, "Hey, Bacchus, how was adventuring today?"
He laughed a hearty laugh, stroking his long beard as he usually does. "Ah, Lassy, I didn't go a'venturing today!"
Sierra frowned. "But I thought you and Joe went every Tuesday and Friday?"
"Well, I was feeling a bit, erm, under the weather this morning," he told Sierra, who knew damn well that meant hung over, "so Joe went out by himself on one of them big rental sailboats."
"Oh," Sierra mused, crossing her arms. "Well, is he back yet?"
Bacchus looked thoughtful, his bushy eyebrows turned down into a frown. "Come to think of it, I told him to be back two hours ago, but he's not yet. I wonder what that boy has gotten himself into now…" He shrugged. "I'm sure he'll be back any time now, so don't you worry, little Lassy."
"I wasn't worrying," Sierra clarified, putting on her signature stubborn look.
Bacchus simply laughed, and then continued on his way, leaving Sierra behind.
She went to bed early again that night, since she had nothing better to do. This time she dreamed about the sea. It was angry and dark and thrashing, and she woke up with her sheets tangled around her.
The next morning, Joe still wasn't back.
He had never stayed out over night before.
And no one knew where he was.
By this time, people were sending out search parties. Bacchus had gone out on his boat and Aden and Sonja had taken Ymir out to search for the missing adventurer.
Sierra didn't like to admit it, but she was terribly, terribly worried.
"Wow, sis, you're actually sweeping today?"
Sierra looked up at her twin brother, then down at the broom in her hands. She hadn't even noticed.
By one o'clock, Bacchus had returned. He hadn't found anything out at sea or near the local islands. By now, most of the islanders were worrying, all looking grim.
This was how his father died, too.
Sierra tried not to show it, but she was so nervous that she resorted to actually doing work to keep her mind off things; a blaring signal to everyone that something was terribly wrong.
What if I never see him again? The last thing I did was yell at him and punch him in the face! He can't be dead! The feeling of dread was growing so quickly in Sierra's stomach, Bismarck even told her she needed to take a break; something she thought she's never head coming from his mouth. She didn't complain, though, so she ran down to the beach and sat down in the sand. She kept her eyes straight. She was afraid if she moved them, they'd break and start leaking.
She didn't know how long she sat there on the beach, but as the sky was turning orange she was soon aware of someone calling her name. She turned and saw Odette running towards her across the beach, her purple hair flying behind her. "Sierra!" she called. "They found him; he's at the clinic!"
She didn't ask where or how or any other question. The two girls ran together through the cave, onto the docks, and up the elevator that lead to the church plaza. Soon they were both bursting through the doors of the clinic, with Sierra in the lead.
There was Joe, lying unconscious in one of the hospital beds, looking very still. For a second, Sierra's pounding heart seemed to stop beating. Then she saw him breath, and it started beating again, only it was going way too fast.
Bacchus and Aden were already there, standing a few feet away from the bed and watching solemnly as Violet stood over him, dabbing something onto his forehead, which was cut open and turning a nasty shade of blue. Sierra ran right up next to Violet, not bothering to be discrete. "What happened?" she demanded.
The younger girl seemed to shrink, her hands and voice both shaking. "Aden and Sonja found him floating on a piece of driftwood up north. We think the ship might have crashed and he got knocked unconscious…"
"Well, is he going to be ok?" Sierra's voice sounded desperate.
"I… um… I'm not sure yet…" Violet trailed off.
Sierra looked back down into Joe's unnaturally pale face. She suddenly couldn't stop the tears from surfacing and she let them roll down her face. Odette came and put a comforting arm around her. Under normal circumstances Sierra would have shaken it off, but these circumstances were not normal.
Sierra bit her lip to keep from whimpering like a baby. "Joe, you idiot, why'd you have to go and do this? Was it because of what I said? I didn't mean it, Joe, wake up!" Sierra yelled helplessly. The figures in the room all stared at her in a solemn fashion that just made her even angrier. "God dammit, Joe!"
Suddenly, Violet let out a surprised squeak. "He's waking up," she practically whispered, stepping back a bit.
As everyone watched, Joe's hazel eyes opened groggily and painfully slowly. The first thing his hazy eyes met were Sierra's, and a slow smile worked its way across his face.
"Did I scare you?" he rasped.
Suddenly more tears came streaming down Sierra's face, and she had the desire to kick him in a place slightly above the shin. Instead, she bent at the waist and kissed his cold lips. When she pulled back, she smiled a sad grin. "You idiot."
He smiled one last time before falling back to sleep, and Violet continued to treat him, blushing with awkwardness at what they had all just witnessed.
Although, really, everyone had seen it coming.
Joe recovered almost fully about a week or so later. He had suffered from a concussion, large gashes to the chest and abdomen, extreme fatigue, and very mild hypothermia. Although there were still bandages around his head, him and Sierra were back to their normal trickery in no time, once again terrorizing the citizens of Fenith Island for their enjoyment. Only this time, it was a little different.
Sierra didn't like to admit that she had a crush on her friend since childhood, Joe, but now there was truly no denying it.
And Joe was happy, too.
A/N: Oh, the cheesiness, please kill me now.
Hope you liked it! If you do, don't forget to leave a review! It'd make me very happy.
I have another Tides of Destiny One-Shot, if anyone's interested. I also take requests if you've got a One-Shot idea you'd like to see written, about any character, really.