Author's Notes: This is my first Star Ocean 2 fic, so please
be nice. ^^ A lot of this is based off of the manga, especially
the stuff about Bowman. Also, please note that I don't intentionally
bash anyone in this fic; you just need to remember whose perspective
it's coming from. (For instance, Leon doesn't like Bowman all
that much, so he's probably going to think some not-so-nice
things about him, ne? ^^;;) Comments and yes, even criticism
are appreciated, so long as it's constructive criticism. ^^;
Please read and review! ^_^
Claude awoke slowly, stiff muscles avidly protesting any movement.
Last night had been terrible, he remembered. They'd been forced
to camp out in the woods again; somehow they'd gotten lost between
cities (Claude mentally vowed that that was the LAST time he
let Ashton read the map). On top of everything else, it had
gotten very windy and cold during the night. At first, Claude
had been afraid they'd be caught in the middle of a storm, but
other than strong gusts of wind and rather cold temperatures,
it hadn't been too bad.
Rubbing his head as he sat up - he never could get comfortable
sleeping on the ground - Claude observed that all of his friends
were still asleep. Ashton lay sprawled on his stomach only a
foot or so away, sleeping like a log. Claude wondered how that
could be at all comfortable; but then, Gyoro and Ururun refused
to let Ashton sleep on his back, since they were attached to
it and would likely be crushed.
On Claude's other side (and a respectable distance away), Rena
slept on her side facing him. Next to her was Leon, his small
body dwarfed by the oversized lab coat that doubled as a make-shift
blanket. Scattered in various positions around what used to
be their pathetic excuse for a fire were the rest of Claude's
friends - Bowman, Precis, and Celine. Claude eyed Celine dubiously
for a moment. How in the world could she stand wearing such
a skimpy outfit, especially when it got as cold as it had last
night? Keeping the fire lit had been nearly impossible, so the
only heat they could rely on was their own.
Claude heard a soft moan next to him. Looking down, he noticed
with a start that Rena was shivering. But it wasn't cold anymore…
Cautiously, he laid a hand on her forehead and examined her
disturbingly pallid complexion.
"Rena?" No response. He tried again, a little louder. "Hey,
A sudden hand on his shoulder startled him. "Let me see," Bowman
said from behind him. Claude complied, trying hard not to trip
over Ashton as he did so. He stood behind the older man as he
leaned over Rena, but his view was blocked by the other man's
body. Claude shifted his weight, losing his balance and falling
right on top of the still slumbering Ashton.
Everyone else jerked awake with Ashton's loud yelp, plus Gyoro
and Ururun's indignant "awrk"-ing.
One tangled mess of limbs and dragon necks later, Ashton and
Claude had managed to separate themselves, joining the rest
of the group as they clustered in an anxious circle around Rena
and Bowman, wearing various expressions of curiosity and concern.
Even with all the noise, Rena still hadn't woken up.
"Is she all right?" Leon asked somewhat timidly. Claude blinked
at the small quaver he heard in the young boy's voice. Glancing
over, he felt a pang of sympathy; the kid was still trying to
deal with his parents' unknown fates, and now one of his friends,
someone he looked up to (and possibly even had a crush on) was
Bowman stood up abruptly, causing everyone leaning over him
to step back quickly so he didn't knock them over. They watched
curiously as he pulled a few vials and a brown pouch from the
inside pockets of his lab coat, then took it off and laid it
over Rena. He stared thoughtfully at her for a minute, then
finally turned to face the group. "It's not too serious. She
has a fever, probably from the cold air last night." He smiled
confidently, taking a drag from his ever-present cigarette.
What, does he SLEEP with that thing in his mouth? Claude
Bowman continued, "Just try to keep her warm while I make something
to take care of the fever."
"You can do that?" Ashton asked of Bowman, staring at him with
"Sure. You just have to know which herbs to mix."
"That's nice, darling. So, why don't you go do that, then?
We'll take care of Rena." Celine cut in, not unkindly. Bowman
winked at her, which she ignored, then he wandered off with
his supplies to go do some compounding.
"Look, see? There's a town right here!" Ashton scratched his
head in confusion. "But that means we should be there by now…"
"Let me see that, Ashton." The dragon-possessed man handed
Claude the much-abused map, and after looking it over for a
moment, Claude sighed. "Ashton…" the brown-haired young man
looked over, and Claude pointed to the "town". "This is a crumb
from breakfast yesterday." He flicked the offending piece of
food with one finger, sending it flying into the dirt. He continued,
more exasperated this time, "And you've been holding the map
upside-down!" He glared at Ashton, irritated, and the other
man put one hand behind his head and laughed nervously.
Claude sighed again in response.
Just then, Bowman came back, carrying a small vial of greenish
liquid in one hand and with a cigarette dangling from his smugly
"This should do the trick," he proclaimed and walked over to
where Leon sat by Rena's side, writing a book on Advanced Heraldry.
"Move it, kid." Leon looked up long enough to glare at him,
and reluctantly scooted back - a little.
Bowman decided to ignore him, kneeling down next to Rena while
everyone once again looked on. Gently, he picked up the unconscious
girl's head with one large hand and poured the herbal remedy
between her slightly parted lips with the other. She swallowed
the liquid reflexively and when it was all gone, Bowman sat
back on his heels.
"Ummm… Bowman…" Claude started to say, but Bowman cut him off.
"What, you think something's going to happen right away? This
is science, not magic, boy. The medicine has to work its way
through her system first." He smiled. "Don't worry, she'll be
fine. She just needs some rest."
"That's great! Then we can get out of this stupid forest and
into a REAL town!" Precis startled them all with her cheerful
exclamation. She shot a meaningful glance at Ashton, who blushed
a little and smiled sheepishly. Apparently she'd overheard the
True to Bowman's words, Rena woke up a few hours later, groggily
asking what had happened. By the time explanations were finished,
it was already afternoon, so the group decided to wait until
tomorrow to resume their travels.
Claude sat alone with his thoughts for a while, leaning against
a sturdy tree that might have passed for an oak on Earth. His
thoughts wandered aimlessly for a while before they inevitably
turned back to the morning's events. What would they have done
if Bowman hadn't been with them? Would the fever have gone away
on its own, or gotten worse? Sure, a fever didn't sound too
serious, especially since he came from a medically advanced
planet, but who knew what kind of sicknesses it could lead to
on an undeveloped, alien planet?
It wasn't that Claude forgot that he wasn't on Earth now -
he knew that all too well. But he'd never really thought about
how different planets had foreign strains of bacteria and viruses;
he remembered a little bit from one of the micro-biology courses
he'd taken back at the academy, but that had never been his
specialty. He wasn't studying to become a doctor after all.
It was very possible that a virus the people of this planet
were immune to could kill him, or even vice versa. He remembered
all those stories in ancient history about tribes being killed
off by something as minor as chicken pox.
Claude shook his head. There was no use worrying about it,
anyway. But still…
That's probably a useful skill to have, Claude mused.
Definitely a good back-up for when cure magic couldn't be
used. I wonder…
Stretching his legs as he stood, Claude glanced around the
camp site, then frowned. Where was everybody? Rena and Celine
were still there, chatting about some girlish thing or other,
judging by the occasional giggles he heard from that direction.
No one else was in sight.
He really didn't want to interrupt the girls' conversation
- he'd learned his lesson way back with that little incident
in Cross - so instead he ventured deeper into the surrounding
woods, listening for voices to give him a clue where everyone
was at, but at first all he heard was the chirping of birds
and leaves rustling in the breeze. Considering how awful the
weather had been last night, today had turned out to be a beautiful
day, Claude reflected. Almost like Mother Nature was trying
to make amends, he thought with a small smile.
"…no, come on Gyoro, you know I didn't mean it like that…"
A moment of irritated "awrks" prevailed, then, "Well, both of
you ARE strong. You just have…different strengths, ok? …Hey!
Ururun! Cut that out! You guuuuuys…"
Claude chuckled. There was only one person - well, technically
three - that THAT could be. Last time he'd interrupted a fight
between Gyoro and Ururun it hadn't turned out so great, but
it was certainly a lot safer than interrupting women. Claude
would just have to make sure he didn't say anything incriminating
Before long he found Ashton, still trying to "separate" Gyoro
and Ururun, which was pretty much impossible during the best
of circumstances. Currently, they were waging their own private
war right over Ashton's resigned head.
"Oh, hi, Claude," he offered lamely once he spotted his blonde
friend. His expression became a bit more hopeful as he asked,
"What are you doing?"
"I'm trying to find Bowman. Have you seen him?"
Ashton blinked. "Uhmmm… oh yeah. I think he went that way."
The Expelian pointed to the left, through the trees. "Why are
you looking for him?" At this, the two dragons stopped fighting
and peered at Claude curiously.
Scratching the back of his head, Claude answered, "I want to
see if he'll teach me about herbs. I think it might be pretty
The mercenary perked up at this. "Really? That sounds interesting.
Can I come too?"
"Of course, if you want to. Anyway, we still have to ask him
if he'll teach us, right?"
Ashton nodded vigorously, taking the lead to track down Bowman
since he'd seen the man last.
Finding Bowman proved to be more difficult than locating Ashton
had been. Of course, Bowman didn't have two demon dragons bickering
on his back.
They eventually caught up with him in a small clearing, which
Claude realized wasn't all that far from the camp site; within
hearing distance, actually. Which meant they'd been going in
For a moment, Claude was a little troubled when he realized
he had no idea where the youngest two members of their team
were, but Leon and Precis could probably take care of themselves
well enough, and they'd know better than to wander too far by
Somehow, Claude wasn't all that comforted by the thought.
Bowman had found a relatively flat rock and, sitting cross-legged
in front of it, was busily pouring a bright neon pink liquid
into another vial, this one partially filled with dark blue.
The combination turned fluorescent green.
On the rock in front of the herbalist sat a mortar and pestle,
along with several small piles of various herbs that Claude
knew were from this planet, but couldn't identify. The man was
wearing his lab coat again, having gotten it back from Rena
At the sound of their approaching footsteps, the older man
looked up at them, smiling around his cigarette. "What can I
do for you boys?" He grinned, eyes glittering mischievously.
"Do you need more tips on girl watching? You should wait until
we're in a city, in that case."
Claude colored a little at that. "Actually, Bowman, I… we wanted
to ask you something," he started hesitantly. He didn't like
asking for favors; he was too used to the reactions he got because
of his father's influence. But it's not like that here,
he reminded himself. No one here even knew his father. That's
why he liked being here so much; no one gave him special treatment.
"Will you teach us how to do that stuff with the herbs?" Ashton
jumped in during Claude's pause.
Bowman laughed. "So, you kids want me to teach my secrets,
huh? Okay, but only if we do some girl watching in the next
"Uh, sure." Ashton shared a brief, uncertain glance with Claude.
"I guess." Maybe this wasn't such a great idea after all…
"I bet I could improve it."
"You could NOT! Leave Bobot alone!"
"I'm telling you Bobot would be much better if you'd just let
me make some adjustments!"
"And I'M telling YOU to forget it! No one touches Bobot but
ME, got it!?"
Several heated glares and stuck-out tongues later, Leon found
himself wandering aimlessly through the dense forest, sulking.
'Stupid Precis. She's just jealous that I can do better than
her.' He kicked a stray rock, sending it skittering through
weeds and tall grass.
"…now add some Aceras to the Rose Hips and grind it into a
fine powder with the mortar and pestle… Ashton, like this."
Leon's sensitive feline ears picked up on Bowman's voice easily.
Curious, and not having anything better to do anyway, he remained
motionless and listened.
"Ok, what's the next step, Bowman?"
That sounded like Big Brother Claude's voice! So he and Ashton
were hanging out with Bowman? BOWMAN, of all people? He couldn't
The young boy crept closer to where the voices were coming
from, careful not to make any noise. Peeking out from behind
some bushes, Leon could see Claude, Ashton, and Bowman seated
around a large, flat rock, with an assortment of herbs and vials
strewn out among them, complete with a mortar and pestle. Ashton
was grinding something with the tools, Gyoro and Ururun occasionally
peering in the small stone bowl over his shoulders. Bowman was
instructing Claude on mixing several different colored vials
with another vial of crushed-up herbs.
It went on like that for a long time; Bowman would show them
how to do something, then have each of them try it themselves
to see if they could remember the steps. Leon watched for a
while, then went back to the camp site when it started getting
dark. He was pretty sure no one had noticed him watching the
Thanks to Ashton's lack of map-reading skills, the town the
group was attempting to reach was still a three-or-four day
journey away. Which meant more camping out, of course.
"Hey, Big Brother, do you want to read the book I just wrote?"
"Or maybe we could both write one?"
Claude smiled at Leon apologetically. "Sorry, Leon, I'm a little
busy. How about later, alright?" Then he left.
Leon sat dejectedly against a tree, arms crossed and ears flat,
frowning. That's the way it had been for the past two days.
Claude and Ashton always ran off with Bowman, Celine and Big
Sister talked about girl stuff and sometimes worked on jewelry
when they got too bored, and Precis did her own thing - away
from him. She was still mad about the whole Bobot incident,
An awful screeching noise broke in through Leon's thoughts,
and the Fellpool clasped his hands over his sensitive ears in
agony. "What the heck is THAT?" he yelled angrily, then he spotted
Precis across the clearing, playing her harmonica. Or rather,
TRYING to, and doing horribly.
Leon glared at her. "Cut it out, Precis! I like being able
to HEAR, you know!!" Precis did stop, but only long enough to
stick her tongue out at him before she continued playing.
"Fine!" Leon stormed off. No one ever paid attention to him.
Big Sister was always talking to Celine or Precis, or playing
with animals or something. Ashton was, well… Ashton, and Leon
wouldn't WANT to associate with Bowman, a feeling he knew was
mutual. And Precis just seemed to like making Leon miserable.
But Big Brother Claude… Big Brother used to pay attention to
him, but now…
Now, Bowman was taking him away with his stupid compounding,
and Leon was going to lose Claude, lose his newfound Big Brother.
Just like he'd lost his parents.
The young boy stopped in his tracks, ears drooping, blue eyes
staring listlessly at the ground. One hand unconsciously sought
out the light metal ring at the end of the drawstring of the
red hood he wore over his lab coat. He clenched it in his small
hand, but the feel of the cold, smooth metal didn't comfort
him like it usually did.
He didn't want to think about that.
He didn't want to think about… his parents.
True, he didn't know if they were really dead, but… it was
hard, not knowing where they were, if they were safe…
If they were alive.
The only thing he could do was just… not think about it. If
he didn't think about it, it didn't hurt. Much.
And it wasn't like he could do anything about it right now,
anyway. As much as he wished he could.
I won't lose my Big Brother, too, he thought, determined.
He clenched the ring in his fist tightly. I won't lose him
to that dork Bowman. There must be something I can do…
Suddenly, Leon grinned, his ears perking up. Yeah! That
should work. He crept along silently until he found the
spot Bowman had chosen for today's compounding lesson, a small
clear space between a few trees. Only half-listening to their
conversation this time, Leon eyed the herbs and vials laying
on the ground, then studied the vials Bowman was holding. One
yellow, one clear, one light green, all held between the fingers
of one hand. With the other, the man poured a little bit of
some dark purplish fluid into all the vials, saying something
about the different combinations you can make using the same
base herb. Leon's eyes locked on the dark purple liquid. "Base
herb", huh? Perfect! Now he just needed an opportunity…
Bowman gently set down the "base" herb - which Leon guessed
was probably some variant of Wolfsbane, judging by the color
- and corked the other three vials, storing them in his lab
coat for later, Leon supposed. The older man turned away, digging
through the brown satchel next to him for something. Leon quickly
looked over to Ashton and Claude, but they were too busy with
whatever it was they were doing to notice anything. Good.
Chanting very softly under his breath, Leon summoned some of
his magic; not in the form of a spell, just a tiny bit of raw
void magic. It danced as purple energy on his finger tips, and
he grinned impishly before casting it to the vial of liquefied
Wolfsbane on the grass.
None of the three noticed as a tiny, barely visible streak
of purple energy shot straight to the vial and caused the entire
tube to momentarily glow with a dim purplish aura.
Leon crouched down further, anxiously awaiting the results
of this little venture. He watched nervously as Bowman finally
found what he was looking for and turned back, picking up the
vial of purple liquid. The herbalist pulled out a few more vials;
bright pink, cloudy white, and another blue. 'Where does he
get all that stuff?' Leon couldn't help but wonder.
Bowman held the two tubes for a minute, seeming to consider
something, and for a moment Leon was afraid the man had seen
what he'd done. But then, unexpectedly, Bowman handed Ashton
the vials, saying, "I think you're ready to try this step, Ashton.
Go ahead, just pour a little of this into each of these."
Leon's eyes almost popped right out their sockets when he heard
that. What?! That's not what's supposed to happen! It's supposed
to get Bowman, not Ashton! His ears flattened. Oops…
guess I made a miscalculation…
Completely oblivious to the imminent danger he was in, Ashton
happily took the vials, struggling to hold three in one hand
the way Bowman did. Claude looked on, an amused smile on his
face as he watched his friend get a grip on all the tiny glass
tubes. Slowly, Ashton started to pour the dark purple liquid
into the pink one…
As the two substances touched, the void magic in the purple
one reacted violently with the other, causing a mini-explosion
to take place - right in Ashton's face. The poor guy didn't
even have time to yelp in surprise as the vial he was holding
flashed a brilliant purple, then exploded upward in a mass of
herbal liquid and black smoke.
Claude and Bowman stared in astonishment at their friend, who
was now thoroughly blackened and smoking slightly. "Geez, Ashton,
what did you do? Are you okay?"
Ashton, Gyoro, and Ururun coughed simultaneously. None of them
looked very happy. "I'm okay."
Bowman scratched his stubbly chin thoughtfully. "It shouldn't
have done that… hmm."
Very, very slowly, Leon started to back away from the scene.
It was too bad Ashton had been caught in Leon's little scheme,
but he'd just have to be more careful next time. Maybe I
should think of something else… This didn't help me at all.
Something wasn't right here. Bowman knew what he was doing
too well to make a mistake like that, and even though Ashton
certainly would have, he only did what Bowman told him to and
he hadn't touched those vials ahead of time. And why had there
been a purple flash like that? It looked sort of like… magic.
But that couldn't be right. Could it?
Claude's suspicions were confirmed when he caught sight of
a certain blue-haired Fellpool trying to make a quiet getaway.
Frowning, he thought, Why would Leon sabotage the herbs like
that? I better talk to him. But not with these two here.
Excusing himself from Bowman, who was too busy trying to help
clean up Ashton to really notice, Claude silently tracked Leon
to a secluded spot deeper in the forest. He watched the boy
for a moment; Leon was sitting on the ground, his back resting
against the tree's trunk, arms wrapped around his legs. He appeared
to be deep in thought. Glancing skyward, Claude noticed it was
starting to get dark… the sun had almost finished setting. They'd
have to go back soon.
Leon jumped when he heard his name, staring around wildly until
he spotted Claude in the fading light. "B-Big Brother Claude?
What are you doing here?"
Claude came over, seating himself next to Leon, but not looking
at him. "Leon… why did you do that?"
"What do you…"
"Leon. I know you sabotaged the vial so it would explode. Why?"
Out of the corner of his eye, he saw the young Fellpool look
away in defeat, cat-like ears drooping low.
"It wasn't supposed to get Ashton," he admitted reluctantly.
"So who did you want it to get? Bowman?" Leon nodded, and Claude
sighed impatiently. "Look, Leon, I know you two don't get along
that well, but don't you think this is a little much? Have you
suddenly taken up pranks and practical jokes as a hobby? What
Leon almost seemed to curl in on himself. "Because…"
"Because WHAT, Leon?" Claude asked, more harshly than he meant
"Because he's taking you away from me!"
Claude started at the sudden outburst, finally turning to stare
at the small boy beside him, absolutely stunned. "What did you
"He's taking you away from me," Leon repeated in a near-whisper,
resting his chin on his knees, refusing to meet Claude's eyes.
"What… what makes you say that?"
"Because, you… you never have time to do anything with me anymore.
While we're walking, you're always talking to them, and when
we stop, you're always working with HIM, and you just ignore
me, like everyone else does."
Claude stared wide-eyed at his young friend. Leon… was lonely?
Mentally, he smacked himself. Of course the kid was lonely!
He'd just lost his parents and been thrown into a ragtag group
of fighters and mages. To be honest, Leon wasn't always the
easiest person to get along with, and after his parents' disappearance,
the boy had become a lot quieter, so it was easy to overlook
him sometimes. He felt a pang of guilt as he realized that children
were much more sensitive than the adults he was more used to
dealing with. Claude knew he'd been pretty preoccupied with
learning Bowman's trade, although he didn't really think he'd
been ignoring anyone. But, to a child, especially a lonely child,
he guessed that it must have seemed that way.
Leon blinked. "Huh?" He looked up at Claude with large, questioning
blue eyes. "I'm the one that blew up Ashton, remember? Shouldn't
I be saying that?"
"Yes, you should. And I want you to at least tell Ashton what
happened, so you can apologize." Leon sighed, then nodded. Claude
smiled slightly, leaning his head back against the tree's rough
trunk. "But I'm sorry, too. I got so wrapped up in this whole
compounding thing that I just forgot about everything else that
was important. I do still want to learn, but I'll take it a
little slower, okay? So I have time for other things. Forgive
Leon pretended to consider it for a minute, then smiled back.
"Of course I do! You're my Big Brother!" His smile turned into
a slight smirk as he continued, "And I know Big Brothers do
stupid things sometimes."
Claude chuckled. "So do Little Brothers." He put one hand behind
his head, grinning. "But Little Brothers do them more often!"
Leon just stuck out his tongue at him.