Chapter III:

"Looking for an Excuse"

A/N: I own the Star Ocean game myself, but… of course, any characters, places, names, ect.., are not legally mine, but of the owners and creators, whom we love, of Star Ocean The Second Story, and Star Ocean EX. (Finishing it 3 times, never gets you anywhere, does it?) Enjoy.


"Commodore…" Claude pushed the seat back, turning towards his father's desk. There was a vast spray of stars laid out behind his father's chair, and the only light came from the open candle placed in front of Ronixis' paperwork. The Commodore nodded his head, and placed his fountain pen back into the ink. Although he lived in an age where people had a new generation of pens where light created a perfectly steady flow of colorful ink, he always enjoyed the late 18th century's toys. It made him feel like he was still apart of Earth. Claude realized his father was sometimes homesick, and it reassured his humanity; which he sometimes thought his father didn't have. "…About this detour… Where are we headed? The course you directed has been far behind the axis, why would we head to such a place. I want to know, tell me the truth."

"Claude… You have to understand that I need you to follow along with the crew. If one mistake, like the one you've made, slips up again… We cannot determine how to find you the next time. I'm just making sure we're within safe vicinity before we allow you to take your position again."

"You've locked me in my room, for days! This is injustice!" Claude slammed his fist on the desk, shaking the pen in its container.

"It's safety…" He replied calmly.

"Bullshit!" His father glared at him, and Claude knew he had to put back his tongue from out of his mouth. "I apologize, Sir."

"Then back to your quarters." Ronixis began to fill out more papers, concluding their conversation. As soon as his son left, he let the pen fall, hitting the table's edge, and put his hands on his head, frustrated. I don't want to lose you again…

"That's total crap!" Claude hit the button to his door. It slid open automatically and he threw himself on the nearest bed. "He can't keep me like this."

For a week, Claude had been walking only where there were massive amount of people. He was never left alone. His father even had a young woman check up on him every day, at the exact same time, to make sure he had made it back to his room. His father was acting like Claude would walk straight out of the ship into deep space. Bet he'd enjoy that, he thought. If he kept this up, Claude would start wishing he had stayed with Rena. That was far from the fact that he daydreamed about her constantly. Another problem I should tell my therapist.

Speaking of which….

"Hello Mr. Kenni!" A silver long haired girl leaned into the room, viewing the depressed young boy. "It's lunch time, are you ready to eat?" The girl filed out of the open door and into the room, in a straight line. It's something people who have worked on deck had gotten accustomed to. She wore the usual uniform attire. Although, in Hiroki's version, she was only an attendant got to wear a nice black tie with a reddened ruby in the middle. She was nicely fitted in the uniform, and had a nice body to boot. Still, there was something about it that was unusual to him. Claude laughed, knowing he had gotten so used to the Expellian wear, that her clothes seemed too formal.

"Yeah, I'm ready to eat. I suppose you're… guarding me?" He lazily lifted himself off the bed and rolled his eyes at her. "Well… don't just stand around, let's go!"

Okay, he got the whole guarding part down, but still didn't understand the staring. It was like she was watching and waiting for him to pull out a phase gun and shoot himself. Hey, that's sounding pretty damn tempting. He glanced up at Hiroki, watching her basically watch him. Did she find his eating fascinating? Claude threw the fork down lightly on the table, and crossed his arms leaning back into the chair.

"Is there something I should know about? Is my father really THIS paranoid?"

"Huh, what are you talking about Mr. Kenni?" Hiroki sat up straight (-er) and looked at him innocently. "It's my duty to protect you, Sir."

Claude looked around the cafeteria, wondering if she was deaf. There were about 79 people crowding around, give or take the few that bustled around the room. If you listened carefully, you'd pick up random conversations… "Did you hear?"… "So I'm up for a raise…" … "Next destination: Bored-Ville!" The woman behind him snorted loudly. Claude squeezed his temples, irritated. He was usually a simple guy, no worries, but this was too far.

"Claude Kenni? Can you hear me?"

Claude C. Kenni… Please…

"…Yeah, sorry I overreacted. I'm just a bit wound-up. How long are you going to be guarding me for?"

"Well, until we reach Earth."

"EARTH!?" Claude had to cover his mouth. He had screamed it so loud; everyone had put down their utensils and looked at him oddly. He leaned forward to whisper. "Earth is probably galaxies away. Does he expect you to stay with me for THAT long?"

Hiroki smiled and nodded. Claude leaned back, now feeling the cafeteria had returned to its usual loudness. He kept picking up his drink, and taking sips nervously. It made Hiroki laugh.

Although his outside appearance seemed dilapidated, and a bit confused, he was thinking deeply about serious subjects. If they had finished their work on Planet Milocinia, how come they didn't set a new course towards the nearby Planet they had heard much about? It had only been two days after they encountered the readings from the Planet, but as soon as they did, his father rejected entering the atmosphere. His father would stop his whole mission to take his son back home, just because he accidentally stumbled upon a mistake…? No way! Why would he risk the remaining supplies to head home? If they dropped him off, they would be cut of half of what they started with. People might starve! What if the Earth Federation wasn't even in commission anymore? What a foolish idea…

No. Claude couldn't say that. His father had saved their lives before… and he trusted him. If anyone looked up to him more than others, it was Claude. He had faith in his father. If he decided Claude wasn't fit to be on the ship, then so be it. Claude would return home and finish up college. He could start his way at home to becoming a fleet officer, all on his own. Even though that wouldn't be his first life choice, more like his fathers…

Claude released a sigh, throwing the plate into a nearby dispenser. Hiroki quickly followed his lead, as if it was a game, and they headed back to the quarters.

It was going to be a long afternoon…


…And an interesting morning.

Rena groaned. She felt like her back had been lying on cement all night. Even so, she felt light. It was like her body weighed nothing. She stretched and tore her eyes open, breathing in the morning air. The birds sang lullabies to the light blue sky, and she felt at peace. Hmm, naked and at peace…

Hold on…Naked?

Rena was sure she felt the floor vibrate as she let out a ripping scream. Not only was she lying in Dias' bed, but she was butt naked, and in pain too! She had been drunk. Rena knew, oh dear, she knew, that when she was buzzed, she had a habit of blurting out things. She covered her mouth, gasping. What had she done?

She could have said anything to Dias… Maybe he let her sleep here and he left. No, that wasn't possible; his pants were on the floor. FLOOR!? Oh my heavens! Either he was walking around pant less last night, or he… He was wearing them last night, wasn't he...?

Had he slept with her? Oh… no…

Rena's head began to spin. This was all happening too fast. She tried knocking the thought that her and Dias having sex out of her brain, saying "He's a gentlemen, he'd never do that…" but it wasn't working. The fact that he was cloth less during that night, was making too much of an impression on her.

Wait, maybe he went to shower?

Still! Why would he leave his clothes here!? All disarranged?! Plus, doesn't that mean…

He saw her naked?!

It was a sudden realization that Rena had to be cut off from once she heard movement from the stairs. Westa! She couldn't let her mother catch her like this. Rena flew up off of the bed, grabbing Dias undershirt, putting it on, and hiding her lower half under the blanket. She covered the shirt with the blanket as well, but at least it didn't look like she was wearing nothing. The door opened slowly, and Rena held her breath.

"Good Morning."

"CELINE...?" Rena sprouted up from her fake slumber, happily. "What are you doing here!?"

"I came to stop… by… whose shirt is that?" Celine had so much to focus on, it was a bit crowding. Pants on the floor, her sleeping in the guest room, a shirt, which she swore she had never seen before. "Did you have a guest last night?" Celine giggled.

"N-NO WAY! Celine don't be such a pervert!"

"I'm not… I'm just saying…" Celine shrugged and shut the door behind her. "When you're done changing, I'll be outside waiting for you."

"W-what? Why? Where are we going?"

"Mahwah... We'll be going out to a festivity tonight! I need a little girl time to myself. Hurry up Rena dear." Her voice carried away, and Rena could hear her vanish into the kitchen.

Rena felt heavy and just landed back onto the bed, with a sigh of relief.

I wonder if it was good.


"It was good, thank you." Dias put the leftover meat into bags, and thanked the owner one last time, before walking out of the shop. Dias made sure he had awoken early to change into the extra clothes Rena's mother had given him, and eat breakfast in town. He was tired of watching the poor woman slave over a hot stove. Dias checked the suns position, estimating the time. It was getting past morning, and he knew, soon, Rena would awake. He still hadn't calculated how to convince her that he was… How do you say; more efficient than Claude? He couldn't think of why she would protest against it. He was older, but wiser as well. Dias would have no trouble taking care of Rena, let alone…

Dias shook his head, No time for that kind of thinking.

It was a surprise to him when he saw the young woman, Celine, waiting outside the doorstep. Encountering her was always a dilemma to Dias. She had a grimacing glare that was always directed towards him. He hadn't even done anything to her. What a nuisance…

"Hey… YOU..!" Celine spotted him out of the crook of her eye. Dias raised an eyebrow. He was confident his face wasn't screaming 'Awe, Shucks Celine, you found me. Tee-hee.' Yet she called out to him again. "YOU'RE THAT DI-ASS GUY RIGHT?" He rolled his eyes when he saw her smiling from her ridicule.

"Yes… Do you intend to wake up everyone this morning with that loud racket?" Dias put the food down, and leaned against the wall. He supposed talking with her and getting her to depart before waking Rena would be his best option. "Why are you here?"

"None-of-YOUR-business…" She said matter-of-factly. "If you must know, I'm just as surprised to see you here… Weren't you headed to Salva?"

"How did you know that?" He asked curiously. Dias hadn't told anyone of anything about his journey. Not to mention that there was no one to tell.

"I passed it on my way here…"

"So you've come from the… north?"

"North-East to be exact…"

Dias snickered. It had been quite some time since he saw trivial wanders: People who enjoyed adventuring for unintelligent reasons. She evidently had spent quite some time there, because her shoulders were worn with tan. Although paraded with massive mountains on the outskirts of Linga town, he knew not to let the wind deceive you. It was always hammering with sun.

"You haven't answered my question." Dias was becoming persistent. He didn't enjoy it when other people knew things about him, things he didn't want them to. "Don't spare anyone, I have my ways of finding out, with your aid or not."

"Don't blackmail me!"

"It's not blackmail… it's a threat."

"Allen Tax said that you were supposed to be stopping by. He asked me to find out where you were, since I was stopping here. Who better to ask than Rena?" Celine tapped her foot on the small step that led into the house.

"You woke her up?" 'Fool…' he thought.

"She was already awake when I got in. Wait, how did you know she was sleeping? Or moreover, she was at home?"

Dias was perplexed. This woman was too curious, and too dubious. He didn't want to deal with her anymore than he had already and walked inside with his paper bag. Setting it down on the table, he heard the door shut behind him. Was she gone?

Small footsteps became recognizable as Rena slowly walked down the stair case, suddenly gripping the rail when she saw him.

"D-Dias?"

"Who did you expect?"

Rena looked around the room for a while. "Where's my mother?"

"I told her to take a break, so she's out talking with Regis. I'm sure she enjoys the luxury of having a man around the house." He smiled, finally trying to get her attention again. "Good Morning; nevertheless."

"Good Morning." Oh, how do I act around you now? Rena thought. She waddled down the stairs, her hands still shaking a tad. When she past behind him, he turned, startling her.

"Where are you going?"

"Uhm… Celine?…" Rena could hardly finish her sentence. She tried not to relate anything back to the bedroom.

"Yeah, she's outside. I believe she's left." Dias tapped his finger on the wooden table. "Although that only sounds like a prayer I fear will never be answered."

Rena nodded, but turned to walk outside once again. "Wait."

"Yes?" She answered him, awaiting a horrible fate, if any. Just thinking that he might bring last night up got her heart raging.

"I brought you breakfast. Aren't you hungry?" He pulled out the baked meat, placing it on a plate. It was tempting for Rena, since she hadn't eaten yet, but if she sat down with Dias, alone, who knows what could come up.

"Uhm, no… Sorry. Thank you for the offer, Dias. I'm planning to go out and eat with Celine."

Dias scowled. "You're going with her?"

"Yes." Celine poked out behind Rena. "And we're going to have a fun time without you!"

"C-Celine..!" Rena thought that was more than Dias needed to know. "Let's just go…"

"Bye-Bye, Di-Butt..!" Celine jokingly waved as Rena pulled her along. Oh, Rena was going to let her hear it when they got outside.

Dias cursed under his breath, how hard is it to make someone feel affection for you?


"I LIKE YOU, I'MMA BUY YOU A BARREL!" Ashton drove his pink flushed nose into the mirror, gripping it at both sides. "Precis? Do you hear me?" Both of his dragons sighed.

"That is not your precious! Give me back my mirror! Are you going to buy that!?" A merchant with a thick accent fixated himself over the young man. "What is your problem; I said take those two outside!" He pointed to the two dragons, Gyoro growl, and bit his pointing finger. "GO! GO AWAY NOW!"

"Jeez, don't have a camel man. I was just looking at the pretty mirror. I tell you…" Ashton walked out of the store slumped. "… You just can't find good service these days."

"Ashton!" He heard her words and his ears turned blush red. "Get over here you moron!"

"Precis!" He hugged her. "I thought I lost you!"

"You DID! You ran into the crowded walkway! What are you a dolt?!" Precis tried to wiggle out of his grasp. "Let me go-!" He snuggled his head with hers. "Ashton!"

He finally stopped, wide eyes open. "Hey… why are there so many people here anyway?"

"You really are stupid! They're here for the festival!" Precis put her hand to her hips, smiling. "People come from all over Expel, trading things and at night watching the pretty fireworks!"

"Fireworks..?" Ashton's voice was weakened. He felt dumb for not understanding it, but was very curious anyway. "What are they?"

"I promise I'll take you to watch them, Ashton!" She held out her hand to him. "Until then, let's go into the Lacour Castle!"

"I don't want to see that guy…" Ashton whimpered, but took her hand anyway. "He won't help us, I know it…"

Lacour Laboratory

"Nope"

"…But Leon!"

"No can do. I'm surprised they even let you in here!" the young looking boy with a lab coat, Leon D.S. Geeste, shook his head. "I told them to keep out strange looking girls." The Fellpool's fox-like ears twitched. "You must have been wearing a mask when YOU walked in."

"Leon… I knew you were too good to be true." Precis crossed her arms making a 'humph' sound. She knew just how to get him to help them, by teasing him. He was so proud of his work that she knew the child genius would HAVE to prove her wrong. "You could never come up with that kind of technology. It's just beyond you."

"I can too!"

"…Really?" She laughed through her nose.

"Yeah! I'm going to start it right now!" Leon rushed to the back of the lab, picking up various tools, and calling on his assistants. Ashton was impressed and patted Precis on the shoulder.

"Well Ashton, wanna go out and eat, it'll be a while?" Precis walked out of the lab, Ashton following her like a new born puppy.


Night fell quickly. Rena and Celine passed Cross (Plus, stopping and saying "Hi" to Rena's Aunt Rachael at the town Inn) and hit the fork road to either Cross Cave or the port. It would be a night boat ride to get them over the ocean west to Lacour. It'd take quicker if Rena wasn't wandering in circles. Celine sighed, realizing there was something wrong with her friend.

"Okay, tell me what's wrong." Celine sat down near a tree. "You can tell me anything you know that, right?"

"Oh, don't worry about me. Hey, I was wondering, what happened to Ashton?"

"Hmm?" Celine let out a cackle. "I let Precis take care of that one. They're probably at Lacour, waiting for us!"

"You left them?" Rena still felt uneasy and sat beside Celine. "That's pretty dangerous, don't you think?"

It was like Celine ignored her and continued on… "You know, if we miss the festival, I'm going to be very angry, Rena-Darling. So, why don't you just tell ol' Celine what's up."

"Fine… if you're going to ask me every five seconds!" Rena began to hesitate. It wasn't like she could be sure it happened but however, it was embarrassing. "You see two nights ago, Dias decided he want to live with me and my mom."

"Live? Like as in staying with you two?"

Rena continued. "He… Dias… might have… changed."

"He hurt you!? Did he?!" She had stood up and begun to jump to conclusions and Rena waved her hands no to settle her down. "-Then what..!"

"He… might become more than a friend…"

"More…?" Celine sat back down, wandering her eyes around the forest top. "You mean… like… Claude?"

"Don't say that name!"

That's a first. Celine looked with open eyes, ashamed. Did it really hurt her that much?

"Dias… did he…?" Rena didn't want to know what she was implying, but at this moment, she didn't care. She nodded her head in agreement without letting her finish her words. "He touched you?" Rena nodded again.

"Y-You… what..!?" The words slipped helplessly from Celine's mouth. "You slept with him!?"

The young girl rolled her eyes, putting her head in between her raised knees.

"I didn't… I just…"

Celine wasn't sure what do say next. She knew, for Rena, it was unintentional. At least, she hoped so. Dias might be a praiseworthy and pretty strong guy, but he wasn't the one for Rena. There's nothing else Celine could say that would make Rena feel any better. She rubbed Rena's back caringly, hoping… that if anything… she knew exactly what she wanted to do next. Rena, she thought, you can only be happy with the one you want.

"What should I do now?" Rena asked, her eyes soaked with wet fluids.

"Oh dear… I don't know. What do you want to do? Will… you stay with Dias?"

"Uhm…" Rena stared blankly, remembering. "He doesn't know that I know."

OKAY, that's not good. Celine went stiff thinking the worst possible things. How could she sleep with a guy and not KNOW about it? Oh my, she wondered, he drugged her?

"How would you NOT know?"

"I was drunk…" Rena blushed. "I was just a bit tipsy, and I fell asleep on his bed."

"Are you sure?"

"No."

Celine felt a wave of relief over flow her. She laughed, "Don't worry then. We'll find out tomorrow, okay? Tonight let's just go have fun." Grabbing Rena's hand they headed out to the port to catch the boat towards Lacour.

Port Herlie

The streetlights seemed to only dim as the two young ladies walked closer to the port docks. Along them a cluster of people awaited the sailor and captain for the next ship.

"I guess it'll be a while, won't it?" Celine scratched her cheek.

"Hey…" A voice came from behind. It seemed to croak and become distant as the two turned around. "There's a boat nearby, it'll leave real soon." The man walked out from the shadows, his back hunched over all the way, and his thin pale finger pointing to the back of the docks.

"Oh, Thanks!" Of course, Rena blindly decided to follow them, but Celine grasped her shoulder, shaking her head. "W-what is it?"

She started to whisper, "I don't trust him. He's creepy!" She rubbed her arms like she was cold.

"You just don't like old people, Celine." Rena pulled her arm, tugging her towards the end of the pier.

The fog totally covered around them, and Celine held on tightly to Rena's arm, pulling her closer. They couldn't even see their own feet. "What's going on?" Rena looked around cautiously. "Hello?"

"I told you this was a bad idea…" Celine suddenly felt her grip loosen, and then couldn't see Rena anymore. "RENA..?!" She stopped in her tracks to listen for her friend.

"Celine? …AHH!" Rena felt hands go up her body. "W-what's that?!" The hands continued to pace up and down her body, touching her legs softly, and Rena began screaming. "SOMEONE HELP ME!" More hands pulled out and held her wrists back forcefully. Men's snickering voices appeared in almost all directions. They were going to rape her, weren't they?

Celine backed up far enough were she was out of the fog, and she stumbled backwards. The fog was outlandish looking and unnatural. Smoke Bomb! If only Rena wasn't so innocent, Celine could have seen this a mile away! She wanted to leap back in, but Celine didn't have a weapon, and there was no telling who she might hit if she used her magic. Before she could curse, a long sword swung to her left and Dias stepped out behind her.

"Dias?! W-What!?"

"Rena!" Without another word, like he was possessed, he barged in the smoke. Seconds later screams from none other than men were made. After a fourth man hollered for him to stop, pleading for his life, the fog began to clear, and Celine saw them all wounded and fainted. Rena lied in the corner, most likely unconscious, and Dias took out the last man. Spitting on the guy, Dias turned swiftly as if his cloak allowed him to float, and picked up Rena.

"Oh thank the heavens, Dias!" Celine couldn't believe how happy she was that he was here. (That's a first.)

"We're going back." Again his monotone voice irrigated her and made her jumpy.

"No, you can't!" She knew it sounded crazy, but she needed Rena to get to Lacour. Dias didn't make a sound, but he did stop, turning to her. "I know, I know, but WE have to!"

"You'd endanger her life, for fun and games?!" Dias' voice became deeper and Celine saw his eyes target her, as if there was nothing more behind her, or around her. She was the pinpoint of his rage. "I will never allow you to harm her!"

"Dias…" Celine raised her hand out, in a way, searching for the proper words. "Do you really care for her that much?"

Dias seemed a bit taken back by her question.

"Then you didn't sleep with her." Celine could tell the answer from his eyes. "If you were as caring as you say you are, then you didn't do it."

"Why would you ever assume that?"

"She seems to think you did." She walked up to him, now accusing him, face to face. If there was ever a time Celine was serious, it would be now. "Tell her. Tell her you didn't, or else she'll feel like she betrayed Claude."

"Betray? Betray someone who left her for good? He's out, who knows where, and she's here, forlorn. I hardly consider that a rapport." Dias counter acted, pulling the knocked out Rena up to his chest, as she was slipping. "I will take care of her, from now on."

"No." Celine stood her ground, as if he were tearing her right off her feet. Her eyes evaluated the swordsman, and she shook her head. "No, you can't have her!"

Fireworks began to explode midair out in front of the ocean. The lights burst and faded, the sound was silent from the pier. The shadows cast off and on their figures. Celine and Dias glared each other down, both refusing to surrender to the other.

"D-Dias?" Rena's eyes wavered. "Dias… Where am I?" She leaned away from his chest, looking up at him, but Dias continued to glare only at Celine. Rena turned to see what he was looking at. "Celine! Oh thank gods, you're alright!" Dias put her down slowly, and she ran up to Celine, hugging her, but she too continued to look only at Dias.

"What's going on… hey…? Celine? Dias?" Rena glanced back and forth at the two. It was like they were waging war upon themselves. A really bad staring contest...

"Stop it you two!" Rena stood in between, spreading her arms. She faced Dias, and Dias looked down, resisting the urge to push Rena out of the way. "You can't fight like this! I know, it must be about me, but I can take care of myself! I'm not a little girl!"

"You can't comprehend." Dias hung his hand from his swords handle. "You have to return to Arlia with me."

"I'm okay, Dias, really. I want to hang out with Celine."

"The festivals over… can't you see, Rena. Come with me. We'll take you home. Your mother must be..."

"-Shut up!" Rena's eyes situated with his. Anger filled them; all the past fights meant nothing to her, if she couldn't get her feelings out. "I am not a young girl anymore, my mother knows that! You need to learn it too! I can make decisions for myself, Dias! Like I told you before, you're not my brother, and I don't need one!" She could feel her eyes water. "I don't need… anyone! Not even Claude."

"Rena…" Celine sighed. "Rena, please…"

"I mean it!"

"No you don't, the whole reason you've hid yourself at home is because you're sad. You don't want to show it, but we all know. Everyone knows! Why didn't you tell him?" Celine was unrelenting.

Rena was a bit confused. "Tell who?"

"Why didn't you tell him you loved him?"

"He's… a fool." Dias covered her words. "It's as simple as that. He left her, like she wasn't even significant. I have no tolerance for people similar to him."

"He didn't leave me!" Silence cut their throats from speaking, wondering which would ask why she did first. Rena understood, nodding. "I asked him to leave."

"Why?" Dias asked. "Why would you hurt yourself in that manner?"

"I agree… that sounds stupid. Rena, what were you thinking?"

Now they were both after her?! Rena backed up, hitting the wall. She put her hands to her face and begun weeping. There was no answer to their questions; there was no reason for her actions. She had done such a foolish thing, and now both of them were taking time out of their lives to help her. She had ruined things for everyone. Her sobs were covered by Dias' arms, as he held her securely.

"I'm… not good enough, am I?" He whispered near her ear, making her stop sobbing.

"D-Dias..!" He hugged her tighter, stopping her from ongoing.

A nearby fog horn went off, and a ships bell rang in the distance. Celine looked out towards the oncoming ship, while the two embraced. She had thought all the ships stopped at midnight. Why was one entering now? Once she saw a black metal box held in the air, she knew exactly who it was.

"Leon!"

Inn

"I guess you've figured out how to work this thing as well." Celine fiddled with the communicator.

Leon gave her a sour look. Precis couldn't contain herself and leaned over the table. "No, I figured it out for the dummy." She giggled.

"I could have done it! I just… needed…"

"-To turn it on" Precis chuckled. "Ha-ha, you're such a genius, aren't cha!"

Rena smiled, still revving from her cry. "I'm so happy to see all of you guys!" She grabbed Leon's hand and shook it. "You came all the way here for me, you said?"

This is where Celine took over. "I told them to. You see, this is a communicator, in fact it's Claude's." She handed the device over to the blue hair girl. "He left it here, just in case we need to contact him. I'm sure he wanted you to use it. You know how blanch he is." Celine laughed, patting her softly on the back.

"Claude…" Rena couldn't help but turn around to see Dias looking over the hallway pictures. He wanted to distance himself from the group as much as he could, she could understand it though. "I'll… be back, you guys." Rena scooted out of her chair and walked into the branching hallway.

"What's that all about?" Ashton asked.

"Idiot" They all replied in a chant.

"Dias…" Rena seemed to have spooked him, he turned quickly. "Are you okay?"

"Rena…" His eyes, they seemed very disappointed. Rena couldn't believe all the emotion that was drowned in them. If she didn't know better, she could have sworn he had been crying. That's not possible.

He cleared his throat and scratched the top of his head, trying not to mess up his long blue hair. Walking at a lazy pace, he stopped in front of her, leaning forward. Rena wasn't too sure what he was doing, but when he continued to lean closer to his face, her eyes widened. She felt his warm breath, it was relieving since everything else about Dias seemed so cold. Then she felt his lips lightly touch hers. He kissed her…

For some reason, she couldn't resist. She was deeply happy that Dias was able to show her a side of himself he'd never dare show anyone else.

He released her, and laid his head disappointedly on her shoulder.

"Dias?"

"Don't move." He commanded her, shutting his eyes and pondering, gods knows what. When his lips sealed and then released he let out a sigh, and lifted his head and looked at her. "You… are a magnificent woman. If that insolent bastard ever disobeys you, I swear I will-"

"-Thank you…Dias…"

She was about to turn to walk away, when his hand grabbed her shoulder to spin her around. He held her tightly once more, and kissed her roughly. Hell, if Dias was going to lose her to the blond boy, he'd better do it in style. He pulled his hands through her hair and enjoyed the scent the came with her savory taste.

Dias would never feel the same about another woman. She was too perfect, and he wished she hadn't left the town at all. Then they could have been together, they could have lived a wondrous life. He would bend and break for Rena.

He hoped that Claude knew that.


Claude sighed. Lunch had filled him up pretty good, and he wasn't too sure he'd try for more. He could tell from the digital wall clock that it was getting time for dinner. Ah, I can go later. He decided to close his eyes for a little while longer.

Rena… What are you doing right now?

If he had stayed, Claude wondered, what it would have been like. Would the Expellian people greet him with open arms? Could he and Rena have started a family? Well… maybe that was getting too ahead, but what if they had? Claude couldn't stop smiling. Although, that didn't last too long, Hiroki walked in, knocking ever so softly, but yelling ever so loudly.

"I hear you, dang." Claude pulled himself up into a sitting position on the top bunk bed.

"Claude C. Kenni!" She saluted him. "You have a call waiting."

"…A call? That's odd?" Claude used his arms as leverage as he leaned slightly back. "Is it from a station?"

"No sir! It's from…" Hiroki became a little lost, and pulled out a piece of pink paper. "Uhm, Expel, sir!"

"Expel?!" Claude jumped off the top bunk landing a bit feverishly and wobbling out the door. He couldn't tell if he was running or not, but as soon as he made it to the communications area, he had to skid to stop himself. Panting, he picked up the nearest phone.

"H-Hello?" He waited for a response. Hoping, praying, that it really was from Expel. What had it been, three days over there? Well, it felt like weeks, long agonizing weeks since he had… heard her voice. "Hello?" Claude looked at the phone to make sure it was the right one. Then he returned to the ear piece, becoming impatient. Nope… it was a false call...

"CLAUDE!" Rena's voice rang loudly, he was pretty sure everyone around him was interrupted but he didn't care. Soon his voice was just as loud.

"Rena! Oh Rena, is that really you!?" He gripped the booth tightly.

"Yes. Oh Claude, I've missed you. Really..!" Claude chuckled. He'd say the same thing, but he was still waging war with his head. Did she really mean what she had said earlier, and if so, why was she calling him? "Claude?" He realized he had been quiet.

"Rena… Why are you calling?" He didn't mean for it to sound cold, but there was a hole that she had put somewhere in his heart. He felt guilty after not hearing her voice; maybe he had been too harsh. She was silent, but he could hear talking in the background.

Damn it! Claude what the hell is wrong with you! You finally get your wish back and now, look at what you've done! Why don't you just be honest with yourself? Claude hit the metal wall with his palm. Honest… be honest…

"I'm so sorry."

"Rena?"

"I… I wanted you to stay. I'm so sorry; I didn't mean any of it! I was afraid of you leaving! I didn't want you to leave at all! Please, please come back!" It sounded like Rena paused to clear her throat, but then he heard her sniffle. "I-I…"

"Rena, I love you."

"I love you too, Claude!"

Claude had to stop, sighing away from the phone. He held it near his forehead. It was so hard for him, knowing that he wasn't able to hug her, or kiss her for the first time. Right then would have been perfect. He wanted to see her so bad, even worse than before.

"Claude?" He quickly returned to the phone.

"Rena, listen… I need to see you."

"What…?!" He heard Celine in the background.

"Tell Celine if there's anyway to pinpoint the brightest star from outside. If she could do that, then maybe I could find my way back there."

He listened as Rena discussed it with Celine and the others. Frustrated he hit his head on the end of the booths wall. Why'd he promise that? Why'd he say he could get back there? There was no way that his father would allow him to leave the ship, let alone… Damn it.

Rena returned to the communicator. "Claude… I don't see anything…" Her voice lowed, and it sounded like she would start crying again.

"Shhh, shhh…" He made a hand gesture to quiet her, and then rolled his eyes, realizing he was on the phone and she couldn't see it. "I mean, don't worry…I promise I'll find a way to get back there." Sure, he didn't know what or how he'd do it, but Claude C. Kenni was determined. Rena was the only person who saw him for what he wanted to be. All he wished for now was just to see her once again. "Rena…"

"Claude…" Rena paused, thinking. "I think I have an idea…"

"Okay, shoot."

"What?"

He laughed. "I mean go ahead."

"Uhm, well… Dias seems to know where the best lookout point is…"

"Dias?" Claude had a bad habit of forgetting he was there on Expel. "He's there with you?"

"Everyone's here Claude… we're all waiting for you." Rena laughed slightly, and Claude blushed. It had been a while since he felt wanted. His face went sour, thinking maybe Dias was also waiting for him. For a good fight, he supposed.

He wanted to hurry this up, not knowing when the communicator would cut off. "Rena… Do it. Go there, and I promise you, if you call, I'll pick up." He knew she had nodded, since she released her breath. Oh wait… "-Rena… I… want you to come with me."

"What?"

"When I come there… I know I don't belong, but I want you…I want you with me. You have to come with me, I'm sure they wouldn't mind you aboard. We have people and creatures from all over the galaxy."

"…" Uh-oh, Claude thought. She was quiet. "Only me..?"

"I'm afraid so." He massaged in between his brows with the back of his thumb. "My father would never allow me to stay there… it's against the federations rules. We can't leave a trace of Earth's identity on an underdeveloped planet, or else, we'd disrupt its way of life. Do you understand, Rena?"

"I love you… so… okay. I'll do it!"

"Thank the lord." Claude grinned from ear to ear. "Rena… I'll be waiting." With that he kissed the phones end, and hung up.

That was the only time that he feared she would never call back.


End of Chapter III

Chapter 4 Preview: "With, and Without You."

"Hiroki… what's up with you?" She stood silently, her gaze direction unknown, and pressed herself against Claude. "S-Stop it...!" Her chest pumped rapidly and rubbed against his.

What… "What are you talking about?" … He's with another woman!?


Rei: (Tear) I'm sooo… sad…

Kyoko: Really? (Looks over) You really are crying!

Rei: You're a sore loser, Kyoko! Don't hold in your feelings!

(Kyoko looks around the room and grabs a box of tissues.)

Kyoko: Here you go, Sissy-Boy.

Author: Hey, what did you think!? Feedback is welcomed. Editing comments are looked down upon and shunned, since I fail at grammar. Just put that aside, won't you? I'll buy an Editor I swear! (Sweat Drop)

- ARE YOU READY FOR: ::GAMESHOW!

Ashton: Ashton Anchors here! Do you or your loved ones feel empty inside? Of course you do! You don't have a….

-Dun Dun Dun!

SUPER DELUXE MEGA TON BARREL!

- : D

It's made with pure maple wood, only collectble on Expel! The dry highlight rotates so perfectly into a pure design only seen here!

… It fits all sizes, from ages 2-400! Ha-ha, you silly long-living Expellians! Buy it today, and get a free… (Rummages through a box) FREE….Sword…?

- D :

Precis: That's just stupid, Ashton!

Ashton: (Sniffle) Buy… it… today…. (Whimper)