A/N; This takes place after Saph has seen her adopted family in the parallel universe (who have no idea who she is) and is running around panicking. I've been meaning to post for a long, long time :P
She bolted through the streets, the wind tearing at her face and hair. The long brown strands tangled in her face, obscuring her vision, but she continued on blindly, narrowly dodging walls and parked cars. Her feet pounded in a steady rhythm, the only steady and reliable thing in this world. Her head was spinning, too full and loud and confusing and so she just ran.
But her legs and chest were starting to hurt from sprinting this far. Corners and people and streets whirled around Saph and her breathing was getting shallower, louder, until she was gasping for air and the small, fragile little girl crumpled to the pavement, searching her pockets for her inhaler.
She took three quick puffs, ignoring the concerned passers-by. Deep breaths. Deep...
Somehow she got to her feet again and started limping, fighting through the dizziness brought on by the Ventolin. Every muscle in her leg ached- although not as much as her head- but that was nothing compared to how it had felt to see her sisters and not see the love and recognition in their eyes. Her sisters, who had mopped up her tears when she needed comfort, who had taken her in when she had no-one, who woke her up each morning with smiles and laughter, who she loved more than anyone else.
It's not them, Saph told herself sternly. This is a different dimension. They aren't my real family.
So why does it still hurt?
She should go home, back to Blogland- and she would, soon. But Saph needed a little time to calm down. She didn't want her friends to see her in this state. Just a few more minutes...
The fresh air was tinged with the scent of food and the sound of laughter. Sunshine beat down on old rocks as people flowed around contently, chattering and pausing to admire the market stalls that had sprung up around the town square.
It was a picturesque scene straight from a book, almost too good to believe. Saph stood completely still, closing her eyes and taking a deep breath to enjoy the myriad scents that touched the air. Flowers, meat, fresh bread- a wave of dizziness and hunger made her take another look around before she headed for a table selling seafood.
Something collided with her legs, painfully hard. Saph staggered in surprise and looked down to see a mess of dark brown hair.
"Sorry!" whimpered a black-haired boy of about five or six. He looked up with big, fearful eyes set in a delicate face.
The world began to spin, blurring around her and the only still point, the only thing she could see was a pair of bright blue eyes, the colour that only her own could be.
But these weren't her eyes.
They were the eyes of her little brother.
His mouth was moving, lips wobbling as he apologized, babbling. This little boy was on the brink of tears.
Sound came back into her world, fading in like a speaker being turned up.
"-sorry, I'm sorry, please don't hurt me! I just want to go home!"
He was backing away, stumbling backwards as tears started to trickle down his chubby toddler cheeks. Saph forced her mind to work again, realising she hadn't spoken or even moved. She was staring at him so hard it was probably terrifying the poor boy, so Sapphire blinked and crouched down so that they were the same height, ignoring the crowd still surrounding them.
"Sorry," she echoed him, inwardly wincing. She tried to be as calming and kind as she could bear right now. "I didn't mean to frighten you."
The boy tilted his head down self-consciously so that a black fringe covered his forehead. He blinked those bright eyes- wow, was the colour really that distracting? - back at her, still wary and afraid.
"What's your name?" she asked as gently as possible.
He sniffled at wiped one eye with the back of a faded red sleeve. "Robin." His voice was quiet, timid.
"Are you lost, Robin?" Saph questioned. The back of her legs were beginning to protest against her uncomfortable squatting and her coat was being trodden on, but she ignored the distractions.
Robin hesitated, before nodding once. His little mouth crumpled and she had a sudden, fierce, overwhelming desire to wrap her arms around this lost boy, the first real family she could remember, and never let go. Was this what it was like to know someone who shared your blood?
She straightened up again to full height and tentatively reached out a hand. "Would you like me to give you a piggyback so you can look around?"
A pause, and then another nod. Robin's cubby little fingers curled around her pale battle-scarred hands. Saph twisted around so that he could jump up and felt the surprising weight of him on her back. She held on to jean-clad legs as his young arms wrapped around her, tighter than the vice squeezing her heart.
She slowly turned in a circle, letting Robin look around for whoever he'd been with, overly conscious of the fact this was her first real contact with her brother. His black hair tickled her jacket-clad shoulders and hot breath warmed the back of her neck. Saph wondered what the odds were against this little boy, out of anyone in this dimension, running into her. Surely it was a massive coincidence!
But Saph was a Sensitive. She had seen the threads of fate and knew that however randomly they appeared to have been woven, there was an intricate pattern that would only ever lead her into pain.
"You look like Lucy," Robin said suddenly, snapping her out of her thoughts.
"Who's Lucy?" Saph said absent-mindedly, scanning the area for anyone who appeared to be looking for Robin.
"Lucy's my big sister!" Robin announced proudly. "She's brave and tall and she likes to play with me. And she always tells me she loves me this much!" He tried to spread his arms to demonstrate and nearly fell off Sapphire's back.
"Careful!" she yelped, catching and straightening him. "Just concentrate on holding on."
She wasn't sure how she was holding on. Inside, her thoughts were screaming and bouncing off the walls in her mind. Lucy, she thought. Is that me?
Robin didn't seem to be bothered by nearly falling and just played with her hair.
"Your hair is darker," he said thoughtfully. "And Lucy's older." Her brother started giggling. "She's old, old, old."
Watch it, Saph thought. I'm older than you think. Except... Saph didn't actually know how old she was. That was a disadvantage of losing your memory and your life- as far as she was concerned, her life had started with her lying on that sick bed. Scared, confused, feverish, and completely alone in the world.
The realisation hit her so hard, she stopped in the middle of the square. She and this 'Lucy' were different people. All Lucy had ever known was her family. But Saph couldn't remember having a family, didn't share any memories with her parallel opposite. Robin obviously came from a mortal home, with no weirdness or magic. She had Lucy and no common ground, no shared memories, no similarities in their lives at all. There was only one Sapphire Iota.
I'm the only me, she thought. The only me in any universe I've ever heard of.
"Mummy! Daddy!" Robin yelled in her ear and she started, almost letting go of him. Then her heart processed the words and suddenly pounded, slamming into her chest and echoing in her ears. Please, please, she thought, but she wasn't sure if she was wishing to see them or not. There was a kind of fear she'd never felt before, but hope shone in her mind bright enough to let her turn, turn and see where Robin was pointing.
But he had leapt off her shoulders and ran as fast as his short legs would allow towards a couple in the corner.
"Mummy!" he squealed again.
The woman spun around and a relieved smile broke across a beautiful face that was only marked by laugh lines. Long blond hair traced its way down elegant shoulders. She was no film star and something about her face was tired, weathered, but Sapphire thought she had never seen anyone more beautiful.
"Robin!" she cried in a voice so full of love that Saph had to swallow hard and remind herself that this was not her mother.
He ran into her arms and she hugged him tight, tears leaking from green-grey eyes. The man, a gentle giant with brown hair put an arm around her shoulders and gently drew them both towards him so that they were locked in a group hug.
Saph should have gone hours ago. The others might be wondering where she was. She had things back home to do, people waiting for her. There was no sense in hanging around here. What had she been thinking? Just get out of here now. Get out. Get out get out getoutgetoutgetoutgetoutgetout.
She began to back away, aiming to subtly slide out of view behind a food van.
"This nice girl helped me!" Robin declared happily, turning around and gesturing at Saph.
She was frozen in place, suddenly afraid to look up, afraid to catch her parent's eye. They were looking at her now; she could feel it, imagine what they were seeing. A girl a few years younger than their daughter, an apparently shy young woman with long, dark brown hair. Black jacket, jeans and a blue top. Worn black boots scuffing the dirt, with her hands in her pockets and head down. If she looked up, would they notice that her eyes were the same colour as the eyes of their son and daughter? What would they think?
“Thank you,” her mother (Saph couldn’t think of her as anything else) said cautiously, curiously.
“You’re welcome,” Saph replied as she took a few awkward steps forward She was right in front of her parents, close enough to smell aftershave and perfume, but the courage to look up had abandoned her. “I’m glad Robin’s okay.”
“So are we,” her father said dryly. Sapphire saw his feet turn to face Robin as he knelt down to pick him up. “Don’t you run off again, little man!”
Robin squealed again, kicking and twisting and laughing.
Somewhere in front of Saph, her mother laughed. “Boys. Why did I marry one?”
Finally, Sapphire Iota found the courage to raise her face to look at her mother, to really examine her for the first time. Her hair was different, that was true. And neither of her parents had the bright blue eyes Saph and Robin had inherited, which puzzled her. Her father was rugged but gentle, full of content confidence. Her mother displayed an unintentional beauty that Saph had never had. Even the way their faces were set out was different!
But she watched her family, saw her mother laughing, and realised that they did have something in common. Their smile was the same.
This moment was something she had wished for, dreamed of. To see her family happy and whole. But the pain in her heart reminded her that she wasn’t the one who could make this family whole.
“Thank you again,” her father said with a touch of breathlessness as he set the little boy back down.
“It was no problem,” Sapphire smiled. There was a wild animal inside of her, clawing and scratching and tearing her heart to shreds and she didn’t know how much longer she could survive. So she quickly bent down and placed a kiss on Robin’s pale forehead.
“Take care,” she managed, and with a final wrench of her heart she turned and forced herself to walk away, step by step, from the life she could’ve had. Mortal. Happy. Loved.
I love you I love you I love you, she thought, silently begging them to recognise her.
Stop it, she scolded herself. They were never your family, remember? You’re the only you.
The only you in the world…
A/N Just to be clear btw, my real name isn't Lucy :P And if you've managed to read down to the bottom, you deserve a virtual cookie (::) (::) (::) (::) :D