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Star Ocean The Second Story

2001: Another Star Odyssey (Home Again)
By Paul Beaudoin


* Chapter 16: Flashbacks *

Claude, Chisato, Rena, and Noel relaxed in their hotel room after the concert. Why Noel and Chisato stayed in the hotel, nobody was sure, as they had homes that were within easy access of Central City, with the help of teleporters. They just felt it was the right thing to do at this point in time. Suddenly, Mirage burst into the room.

"Good news!" she shouted. "Your weapons are done!"

"Great!" Claude said. "Let's see them!" Mirage then procured four weapons: A plastic toy rapier, a children's joy buzzer, and two pairs of toy boxing gloves.

"Right..." Rena said, not completely sure what to say.

Noel was a bit more cynical. "Great. Let's make it so that he can't turn our weapons into children's toys by making them toys in the first place! Brilliant!"

"You haven't seen anything yet..." Mirage said. "Claude, take the sword." He did so. It felt incredibly light in his hands. Mirage then took out a piece of steel two feet thick.

"Slice through it," she commanded.

"What? It'll shatter in no time!" Claude shouted.

"Slice through it."

Claude, seeing that he might as well humor her, swung the sword in a wide arc towards the metal block. Much to his surprise, the sword passed right through it, cleaving the steel with a hairline cut. The top piece fell off and hit the floor with a convincing thud.

"...The hell?" Claude wondered aloud.

"The actual weapon part of it wasn't so hard," Mirage said. "The tricky part was disguising them as toys. Trust me, the other three are just as deadly." She put on one of the boxing gloves. "Titanium plates in the fists of the gloves to give them that extra 'umph'. And, in case you need even more 'umph'..." she clenched her fist, causing multiple blades to shoot through the glove. "I'd show you the joy buzzer, but that thing fried the strongest potentiometers I had." The four looked upon their new weapons in awe.

"It was a blast making these, guys," Mirage said, walking out of the room. "Call me up if you ever need a nuclear warhead disguised as a fluffy teddy bear or something."

* * *

Later that night, Noel sat looking through the window of the hotel room, sighing on occasion. Claude, who had woken up to use the restroom, heard one of these sighs while returning to bed.

"What's the matter?" Claude said, walking up to him. "Can't sleep?"

"Kind of..." Noel said. "I'm just thinking..."

"Kind of convenient how there's always some reflection just before we face off against the villain for the final time," Claude said.

"Huh?"

"Umm...nothing..." Claude quickly backpedaled. "So what're you thinking about?"

"You know, things, stuff..." Noel said. "Kind of about everything and yet nothing, get my drift?"

"Yeah...I have one question..." Claude said. "What is it with you and Chisato?"

"Nothing! Why do you ask?" Noel said quickly.

"Don't play dumb, Noel," Claude said. "I've noticed you two lately. The situation right after the Lantis concert, the way you blush in her presence, how you mysteriously disappeared tonight during the battle of the bands..."

"Actually," Noel said in his defense, "that time we just got caught up in a mosh pit."

"Yeah, sure. What gives?"

"Well...if you need to know...it all began the night after Lantis' first concert..." Noel began.

* * *

Author's note: This is a flashback. This is not what is currently happening. I'm sure most of you could have figured this out without my help, but there are some people who need explanations for everything. You know who you are.

Noel and Chisato walked into Noel's house. It was already dark outside by the time they had arrived, and so there was a bit of fumbling as Noel searched for the light switch. Eventually it was found, and the room brightened immediately.

"Would you like to come in for a little bit?" Noel asked.

"Sure," Chisato said.

"Great, I'll go put on some tea..." he said, walking into the kitchen area. When he got there, he sighed heavily. Should I, or shouldn't I? he thought to himself as he filled the teapot with water. I will, he decided as he put the pot onto the stove to heat.

"Umm...Chisato?" Noel said meekly as he walked into the main room. "I have something to tell you..."

"Listen, I already know about the pet shop incident..." Chisato said.

"No, it's not that," he said. "What I want to say is...well...I've enjoyed being with you these past couple weeks..."

"So have I," she said. "It's been a great way to catch up after all these years."

"No," he said. "I've really enjoyed being with you..."

"I don't quite understand."

"I thought I might have to say this in more literal terms..." Noel said. "What I want to say is...umm...I..." He stuttered as he tried to say the words.

"I...I...I think I love you..."

Chisato looked at him with an expression that wasn't quite shock, but was damn close.

"Wait, aren't you..." she began. "You know..."

"I know, and that's what I can't figure out!" he shouted. "How can I be...you know...and still...well...you get the picture."

"Maybe you're like Ashton," she said. "Or maybe you're not really that way at all..."

"That could very well be," he said. "But how can I be sure?"

"I think I know a way," she said, leaning towards him. And then...

They kissed.

Mind you, it wasn't a particularly passionate one. It was rather sudden and awkward, and when viewed from certain angles, almost looked like it hurt. But it was a kiss nonetheless.

"Wow..." Noel said as they separated. "That was an interesting experience."

"You mean you've never kissed before?" Chisato said. "What about you and Ashton?"

"Actually," he said, blushing, "We never really got past the hand-holding stage..."

"So, perhaps you really aren't...you know..." she said.

"Well, it seems I've passed the first test..."

"There are others..." Chisato said as she started to undo the buttons on her jacket.

"Wait," Noel said. "Let's not rush things. I mean, we're friends and all, and I don't mean to really be a bother in all this." A light blue jacket flew past his ear, and Noel began to sweat.

"After all, we did just have our first kiss not too long ago. And it's not like we're technically dating in the first place. True, we did spend quite a bit of time together, but we also spent plenty of time around others of the opposite sex, and that didn't cause any quickened relations..."

A turtleneck sweater flew above the other shoulder. Noel started sweating even more, and began fumbling his words.

"I don't mean to make you feel uncomfortable. You don't really have to do this if you don't want to. You could go home any time, if you really wanted." A pair of red shorts hit him in the face. He quickly brushed them aside.

"Oh, what the hell," he said, giving up as an arm reached up and pulled him to the floor.

Author's note: This ends the flashback. This has been a special message for those same people that couldn't figure out things unless they were told exactly what was happening. Thank you.

* * *

"I'm sure you have a pretty vivid imagination," Noel said. "You can figure out what happened next..."

Claude stared at him dumbfounded for a second, and then snapped back into reality. "You lucky dog..." he said, nudging Noel gently in the arm.

"Yeah, I suppose," Noel said sheepishly.

"There's still one thing I don't quite understand," Claude said. "It's pretty clear that Chisato spent the night, if you know what I mean. But when we came to your house the morning after 'the morning after' to tell you about the threat, Chisato was still there. Why?"

Noel grinned. "What made you think she went home?" He yawned, and looked at his watch. "It's late, I'd better get some sleep..." he said as he crawled into his bed.

Claude thought for a moment, and then decided a late-night shower was in order.

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