Merry Christmas, Starry-chan! It's not really a Christmas setting, but... it's a cute little fic I wrote for you about the ToP gang buying stuff, and... Well, you'll see.

Please enjoy!

Disclaimer: I do not own Tales of Phantasia. It is owned by Namco.

--Two Hours--

A party of six entered a small shop. They immediately started browsing the weapons and armor; they needed the best of the best for their upcoming fight against the demon king Dhaos. There were four people working here—three behind the counter, and one roaming around the store.

"Wow!" exclaimed Chester, the archer. "Hey Cless, come check this out!" In his hands, he held a bow. The swordsman, Chester's best friend, hurried over. "This bow is amazing...!"

Cless turned to a young lady at the counter. "How much does it cost?"

"148,000 gald," answered the lady.

"148,000..."

"...gald..."

The two best friends could hardly believe their ears. This was the most expensive place in all of Aselia!

"What about this rare plate?" Klarth, the summoner of the group, questioned.

"82,000 gald."

"Wha?! These things are too expensive—how the heck do you expect anyone to buy them?!" demanded Chester.

"Look..." the young ninja known as Suzu spoke up. "This combo command might be useful."

"That's 400,000 gald," the young man at the counter spoke up.

"...Cless, how much money do we have...?" the healer of the group, Mint, asked.

"500,000 gald... not enough for everything... We'll have to choose what we get carefully."

"All right, then! Let's go!" cheered the witch Arche. She motioned to the door, and waited for her companions to exit. The other five exchanged confused and sad glances before exiting, one by one. The only one who stayed a little longer was Chester, who was too absorbed by the magnificence of the bow.

Annoyed, Arche stormed over to him and grabbed his ear. "I said, let's go!" She pulled his ear and, ignoring his yelps and complaints, dragged him out the door.

Outside, she let go, and the archer rubbed his sore ear. "H-hey! What the heck was that for?!" he demanded.

"You wouldn't come!"

"You didn't have to drag me out like that!"

"Chester, Arche, please stop arguing..." Cless' head hurt from all the arguing the two did on their journey—it never seemed to stop.

Chester and Arche glared at each other a minute longer before angrily turning away with a "hmph!" from both of them.

"It's a shame..." muttered Klarth. "Those items would've been useful... They had a lot of great armors for you, Cless."

Arche grinned. "Who said we were leaving them behind?" she questioned sweetly.

"We are not stealing!" argued the archer.

"I never said we were!"

"Then what were you saying?!"

"We're bargaining!"

"...What?" Everyone stared at her, confused.

Arche rummaged through their items, searching for something... Soon enough, she pulled out lipstick. "Who wants to give it a try?" she offered.

"Well there's only three girls..." muttered Cless. "But I don't see how lipstick will help..."

Arche rolled her eyes. "Honestly, don't you know anything?" She used the lipstick, putting it on, and then passed it to Mint. Mint stared at it, confused, while Arche went back to searching through the pack. "Put that on, Mint."

Mint turned to Cless, worried and speechless.

The swordsman shrugged. "I don't think it'll even help... but let's see what Arche has planned." So Mint put on the lipstick, and then Suzu.

Meanwhile, Arche found what she was searching for. She held up what looked to be a perfume bottle. Chester opened his mouth to speak, but he was too slow—Arche sprayed the perfume all over the group. They started coughing, Chester's cough being the worst, as some had gotten in his mouth. The witch only laughed as she sprayed some on herself as well. "Now then, shall we?" she asked sweetly as she opened the door, ignoring her companion's coughing. They followed her inside, and Arche went straight to the counter.

"Hello there! Welcome to Master Gheeth's shop," the young lady greeted.

"Say, how much will it be for everything?" Arche questioned as sweetly and cutely as she could muster, which was pretty cute and sweet.

"For the boys? 184,450 gald!" cheered the shop lady. The boys could hardly believe their ears—they exchanged astonished expressions.

"T-then we'll need three rare plates, two rare gauntlets, and one of everything else..." Klarth spoke up.

"That's 296,150 gald."

"And the combo command is 200,000 gald, miss!" called the young man behind the counter.

"Sold!" yelled the witch. "Cless, where's that money?"

"O-oh! R-right..." All Cless could wonder as he pulled out the money was what happened to the bargaining aspect of that?

They bought the items, and then sold their useless items. The three boys had new armor, and Chester had a shining new bow at his disposal. They were all still amazed at how well Arche's trick worked!

"Arche..." The swordsman turned to thank her, only to find her flirting with the young man behind the counter. The young woman was watching Cless, Klarth, and Chester, intrigued. She struck up a conversation with the archer, leaning over the counter to get closer to the man. "...Wait a sec..."

"Did you just realize what she did?" questioned the summoner.

"You mean you knew?!"

"It was obvious—honestly, you've been traveling with Arche as long as I have... Is it really that surprising?"

Cless thought about this. No, no it wasn't, but...

"We got new items to help us fight Dhaos, right?" Klarth pointed out.

"I suppose so, but..." He couldn't help but feel sorry for Chester, who was completely oblivious to why the young lady shopkeeper was so intent on talking to him.

"Cless-san, do we have any ivory?" Mint suddenly spoke up; the swordsman spun around to find her talking to the last shopkeeper, a man with green hair. Cless, Klarth, and Suzu joined her at the man.

"Hey," he greeted. "I'm looking for some ivory... I'd like to make an ivory carving. If you get me some, I'll make you something nice, too."

The leader of the warriors began searching through their supply of junk until he dug out some ivory tusks.

"You have some!" exclaimed the blacksmith. "What do you say? Do we have a deal?"

"Yes." Cless passed the ivory over the counter.

"Alright, we have a deal! Give me about two hours, then. I'll hurry up and make your thing first." He turned to the old man wandering around the store. "Hey, gramps! Gimme a hand with this!"

And so, the two hour wait started.

As the young lady at the counter, Sammy, talked to him, Chester couldn't keep his eyes off of Arche. More of, he was glaring at Arche and the man she flirted with. She talked so fast that no one could keep up with her, but the man still pretended to be interested.

Mint walked over to Arche, which prompted the young man to start flirting with her as well.

"Uh-oh, Arche's trick lasts a little long..." muttered Klarth.

"What do you mean?" questioned the swordsman, having not noticed the man flirting with Mint yet.

"I said nothing!"

"Klarth-san, what did you—" He noticed. "...Arche can't just make a trick like this...!"

"Calm down, Cless. I'm sure it'll wear off soon..."

"Hey, Chester-san, have you ever seen it?" Sammy spoke up, catching the archer's attention.

"Seen what?"

"Haven't you been listening, Chester-san...?"

"Huh? Oh... sorry. What were you saying?"

"The Alvanista special performance!"

"Hey!" Arche dashed in, literally pushing Chester out of the way. "I've heard of that! What's it about?"

"Arche!" yelled the archer. "You can't just push me like that!"

"You were in my way!"

"I was talking over here!"

"Well now it's my turn!"

"Why are you always such a brat?!"

"Why are you always such a jerk?!"

The two glared at each other yet again.

"A-Arche-chan, Chester-san..." While Mint tried to get her friends to stop arguing, Cless walked over to the other side of her, placing himself between the cleric and the male shopkeeper. His eyes were on Mint. She did look really cute... Has she always looked that cute...? he couldn't help but wonder. Before he knew what he was doing, he reached out and grabbed her arm.

Mint spun around, startled. "O-oh! Cless-san..." She fell into silence, and the two just stared at each other.

"So we have a glaring contest and a staring contest..." observed Klarth. "What next?"

"What's going on...?" the ninja asked, confused.

"It's a little thing called 'love'..." With that word, he couldn't help but think about his assistant, who was at home waiting for him. "Milard..." he muttered to himself. "I wonder how you're doing..."

"Are you all right?"

"Y-yeah. Anyway, Cless and Mint are probably realizing that they like each other, but it'll probably be a long time before they admit it. And Chester and Arche... the day they realize that they like each other will be the day the world stops."

"Because they're always arguing?"

"Something like that..."

Cless suddenly let go of Mint's arm and averted his eyes. "Um..."

The cleric also looked away, unsure of what to say. "I-is something wrong, Cless-san...?"

"N-no! Not at all..." Neither of them said a word, but neither of them looked at the other, either.

"Stop glaring at me, you jerk!" Arche suddenly yelled.

"You started glaring at me first!"

"Did not!"

"Did to!"

"Did not did not did not!"

"Did to did to did to!"

Angry, Arche turned to the swordsman. "Cless! Tell Chester that he started this!"

"Oh yeah, real mature there!" combated the archer.

"Shaddup! Why are you always such a prick?!"

"Didn't we already go over this, you stupid girl?!"

"Why you...!"

"...My head hurts..." complained the summoner.

"Yeah, mine too..." Suzu agreed.

"Arche-chan, Chester-san... Why don't you use these two hours to try not arguing?" suggested Mint. "If you do that, we'll give you something special!"

"Something special? Like what?"

"Anything you want," moaned Cless. If they manage not to argue for two hours, I don't care what they want... at least we'll all be sane.

"...No one could give me what I want the most..." muttered Chester, but only Arche heard his words. Speaking up, he said, "Fine, we won't argue for two hours."

"So it's settled, then! No arguing 'til the ivory's done!" cheered the witch. Chester withdrew to the side of the shop, while Arche began talking to Sammy. Mint and Cless stood next to the half elf, listening to the conversation going on, but giving no input.

After about thirty minutes, Chester was really fighting the urge to make a quip at Arche's loudness. What I want the most... he thought. "Onii-chan!" Her voice echoed in his memory, but it would never—it could never be heard again... "I'm already an elegant lady!"

No... you were only eleven years old...

"Onii-chan... I'm sorry..."

"What's wrong? Don't you like it...?"

"No, it's not that... When I was little, for my birthday present..."

You were still little...

"I said 'I want mother and father'... just like that..."

"...What... worried about such a thing?"

"You also felt lonely without parents. But I... said that with my own selfishness."

You had every right to be selfish... I'm being selfish now...

"Whenever a birthday comes, I remember... Onii-chan's sad face at that time... I can never forget..."

Don't remember that...

"...Well, Ami... that was when we were little. Forget about it already."

"Chester, are you okay?" Cless questioned.

"You can talk. It might show us that you and Arche can carry on a conversation without arguing," Klarth dared to point out.

"Klarth-san, don't push our luck..."

"We can talk without arguing!" Arche said sweetly. "Right, Chester?"

"Y-yeah..." Just a conversation, right? He could pull that off—he was sure he could. He walked over and joined the group in front of the counter.

"So what were you thinking so hard about?" She asked the wrong question.

"It's nothing..." He fought to keep his voice low. No one can give me what I want most... but I'm not going to stop Arche from getting what she wants most.

A thought occurred to him. "...When's your birthday, anyway?"

"Huh? Where'd that come from? Does it really matter?"

"I guess we won't be traveling long enough to see everyone's birthday..." realized the swordsman. "Hey, I know! Before we fight Dhaos, we should have one big birthday celebration for all of us! We'll stop by Alvanista and buy presents for each other there!"

"That's a great idea!" agreed Mint. "We could then take them somewhere for a picnic!"

"Yeah, as long as Arche doesn't cook!" Chester couldn't help himself—after their experience with picnics at the limestone cave, Arche was infamous among the group for being a terrible cook.

Arche opened her mouth to argue, but quickly shut it again. I can only have what I want most for two seconds... but holding this for two hours is worth it. Besides...

"I'm learning, right? Mint's teaching me!"

"Mint's a good teacher, wouldn't you say?"

"Oh that's right, didn't she also teach that one little girl piano lessons?" the swordsman put in, trying to stop an argument before it happened.

"You're right!" Arche exclaimed, having forgotten. "I wonder how she's doing now..."

"That last concert we heard of hers was absolutely splendid," added the summoner. "Just think of how much she improved thanks to Mint's teaching!"

The cleric turned away, her face completely red from all of the compliments. "Oh stop it... I didn't do that much..." The others only laughed.

"Hey, how much longer do we have?" Chester questioned. "I can't wait to try out this new bow!"

While she could've made a quip at him in less than a second, Arche had to think about something nice to say to him... without being too nice, of course. "We'll go beat up some monsters after this!" ...Or will the monsters beat up you because you can't aim? He could aim, very well, in fact, but Arche liked to tease him about when he first joined and missed a lot, especially with his wounds distracting him at the time.

"Yeah, that sounds good! And we can see what that combo command thing does!"

"Suzu, do you have any idea what it's for?" Cless asked.

"I don't know."

"Then why did you suggest it?!"

"Geez, we all thought you knew just what the heck it is!" Arche agreed with the archer.

"It looked useful." As the ninja argued, but the other three didn't listen; they just stalled in complete shock.

"...What's wrong with you guys?" The half elf noticed the staring first.

"You two agreed on something," Klarth ventured to say.

"Shut up!" Arche and Chester chorused. They both started to turn to glare at each other, but then they remembered that they still had about an hour to go without arguing; they immediately turned away from each other. The other four and the shopkeepers couldn't help but laugh at the scene.

"Cless-san..." Mint whispered, and the swordsman turned to her. "It's going really well, wouldn't you say?"

"Yeah. We're probably going to have to figure out how to get money quick!" Cless replied with a laugh.

"Yeah... but we promised!"

Chester and Arche both noticed the sweet moment forming, and neither of them could let it go so casually. At the same time, both pushed Cless into Mint.

"Eh?!"

"Ah...! M-Mint, I..." His face red, the swordsman spun around to the two troublemakers. "Chester! Arche! What was that for?! You could've hurt Mint!"

"Hey, you should be thankful to us!"

"That's right. After all, because of us, you and Mint got to hug in public!"

"W-what are you—"

"Yeah yeah! And just think, if we had better aim, you two could've kissed in public!"

"ARCHE!"

"Uh-oh, he's angry. I'll leave this one to you!"

"Gee, thanks!" muttered the archer sarcastically.

"You two have whatever fun you want yourselves! I'm going to go wait for the blacksmith to finish!" With that decision, Cless stormed over to the side of the counter where he had ordered the ivory working, while Mint only watched.

"Hey, Cless! What'd you mean by that?!" demanded Cless' best friend, but he didn't answer.

"Well, Mint? How'd you like it?" the other young lady asked in a whisper.

"Eh?!" The cleric tried turning away—her face was completely red—but Arche just followed her.

"Come on, you liked hugging Cless, didn't you? He's too dense, though..."

"W-well..."

"...All guys are too dense..." Arche's eyes fell on Chester for a moment. She turned them away, to Sammy. "Anyway! What were we talking about earlier?"

The shopkeeper smiled. "I forgot..."

"Oh well, we'll just have to talk about something else!" With that, Arche immediately began rambling, and Sammy joined her in a conversation. They were talking about fashion... Mint turned in, curious, but trying not to let on.

"Hey, Suzu! Come join us—we're having a girl talk!" Arche suddenly called over. Curious, the young ninja walked over next to Arche, while Chester stepped out of the way.

"There's an hour left..." he muttered to the closest person—Klarth.

"Are we going to have to listen to Arche ramble for all of it...?"

"Keh... seems like it." And, unable to carry a conversation over the loud girl, they fell into silence.

After about ten minutes, Chester couldn't take it any longer—but just what couldn't he take? That idiot rambling is probably what's getting on my nerves so much... Either that or standing here doing nothing. "I'm going to go get some fresh air." He said it so quietly that no one heard him, but Arche noticed as he walked outside, gently closing the door behind him. She continued talking, but she couldn't help but wonder why he walked out.

Outside, Chester leaned against the wall and took a deep breath. What I want the most... He stared up at the trees—sakura trees. All of them were filled with pink flowers. "Oh yes! I remember... a while ago... everyone from the village planted trees in the forest. The flowers bloom whenever this season comes!"

The flowers bloomed...

Wind blew, catching the small flowers and sending them straight towards the archer. He reached out to grab one, but someone else beat him to it. Surprised, he turned to find Arche standing beside him. She grinned. "Why'd you come outside?"

"...I needed some fresh air."

"Uh-huh." Arche played with the little flower in her hands, twirling it as she stared at it. "So what is it that you want the most, anyway?"

What I want the most... "It doesn't matter."

"Why? Because no one can give it to you?"

What does she know?! "Shut it. I don't want to hear it from you."

"These flowers bloom in the spring... Did a special girl like them a lot?"

"Every year from now on, these flowers will..." Chester paused. "It doesn't matter... all that matters is that I get revenge."

"Ooh, your little sister, then?"

"I said shut it!"

"So that's what you want the most... your sister..." Arche let the flower fall, and it floated away on the wind.

"...I'm only here to get revenge. After that, I don't care what happens."

Then why aren't you happy...? thought the witch. "Will you really be happy with that? Even after you get revenge, your sister won't be back."

"Shut up! I don't want to hear anymore—just leave me alone!"

"Calm down, our two hours aren't over yet!"

"They can't give me what I want anyway!"

"So you're going to stop me from getting what I want most?" questioned Arche. "How rude..."

"Ah... R-right... Sorry."

Both paused as the wind blew again, spreading flowers with it. "...It's in the spring."

"Huh?! Where'd that come from?!"

"Earlier you asked when my birthday is! It's in the spring!" Arche explained, a smile on her face.

In the spring... it's the same...!

"Every year from now on, these flowers will... celebrate your birthday! From now on, remember these flowers on your birthday."

"So I guess... these flowers celebrate your birthday every year..." muttered the archer.

"Yep!" Another silent pause. "Hey Chester, come back in soon, okay? You don't have to suffer... out here alone."

Chester turned to the girl, surprised. "I'm not..."

"If you keep suffering out here with the sakura trees, we'll only see your sad face with these pretty flowers. I'm sure everyone in there wants you to be happy. So... make sure you do something that'll truly make you happy, okay?" With one more grin, she re-entered the building.

Arche... Chester stared at the trees again. Ami... can never be there again... I can never be happy with that...

...But maybe... I can see the flowers as celebrating Arche's birthday... from now on... She'll be there, right...?

Inside, Arche went right back to rambling to the girls at the counter, right across from Sammy. Only thirty minutes left...

...But they were the longest thirty minutes of Klarth's life. Arche was rambling the whole time, and while he tried reading, he couldn't concentrate on it; he gave up after ten minutes.

"The latest fashion in Alvanista..." Arche was only at the beginning of her ramblings.

Unable to take it anymore, Klarth spoke up. "You sure talk a lot... I'm gonna die of boredom any minute here."

A noise from the back caught his attention. "It's done!" the blacksmith yelled from the back room, much to the summoner's excitement. The door opened and the blacksmith returned, heading straight over to Cless. "All done! Ivory's great for making Magic Tablets! I used your material to make three Magic Tablets!" He handed the tablets over to Cless, who was appalled. That's what they had waited two hours for? What's magical about these tablets...?

"If you find any more ivory, bring it on over," the blacksmith continued.

Cless nodded his thanks and walked back over to the group—Klarth backed up towards the girls to make room for the swordsman on that side of the counter. "Alright, let's go," the summoner said. "Hey, where's Chester?"

"He's waiting outside," answered the half elf. The girls turned back to their host. "See you later, Sammy!"

"See ya!" agreed the happy shopkeeper. "Talk to you later, missy!"

The five finally walked out of the small shop, back outside, where flowers were floating all around and the scent of the ocean was strong. Chester stood right next to the door, his back against the wall. Noticing them, he said, "So you guys are finally done? I was getting tired of waiting."

"Yes, and while we didn't manage to stay completely sane with Arche's rambling, we stayed sane enough," muttered Klarth.

Cless laughed. "Well? What do you two want?"

What I want the most...

"Just to beat up Dhaos," the archer stated. "Let's hurry and take him out!"

Cless hadn't expected that—he was at a bit of a loss. "O-okay... What about you, Arche?"

"Well..."

"What do you want the most, Arche-chan?"

What I want the most...

"Anything, right?"

"Yeah, that was the agreement."

"All of you agree to this?"

"I'm scared to know what you want now... but yes," input the summoner.

"Spit it out. We don't have all day!" Chester said impatiently.

"Okay, here goes!" She spun around, towards Chester. Before he knew what she was trying to do, she leaned up and her lips met his. After a moment, she drew away. Everyone paused, awe-struck, and Chester's face turned a bright red.

"W-what...?"

"That's a small part of what I want the most!" she said. "Well, let's go! Time to give Chester what he wants, right?"

"Y-yeah..." Cless was surprised by it, too. Arche and Chester...?

All except Chester started walking away from the shop. "If you keep suffering out here with the sakura trees, we'll only see your sad face with these pretty flowers."

The flowers are supposed to bring happiness...

"I'm sure everyone in there wants you to be happy. So... make sure you do something that'll truly make you happy, okay?"

What'll make me happy...?

Arche will always be there... Maybe, little by little... I can get rid of this pain... maybe I can live happily again... with her...

"Chester, are you coming?" Suzu asked, being the only one who noticed him lagging behind.

"Y-yeah!" But... I'm not ready to admit that to anyone yet... Besides, she lives one hundred years in the past... a lot can happen in a hundred years, right? I shouldn't hold my breath... I'll just wait, and... maybe she'll remember... Maybe...

----

Well, I hope you enjoyed it! Happy Holidays!

-Ayame